The Lost Words – Foundling Museum


Last time I was in London I managed to revisit The Foundling Museum to see the latest exhibition Lost Words also recommended to me by Lynne.

“The Lost Words explores the widening gulf between childhood and the natural world in the 21st century, and also speaks to an important aspect of the Foundling Hospital’s history and ethos. Items from the Hospital archive that relate to the importance placed on fresh air and the children’s education, such as reading games and aids, some with lost or archaic vocabulary, are displayed alongside the paintings and spells, demonstrating the institution’s forward-thinking health and education practices.

The exhibition is accompanied by The Sunday Times top ten bestseller The Lost Words: A Spell Book, a beautifully illustrated hardback book published by Hamish Hamilton, which captures the irreplaceable magic of language and nature for all ages.”

Can you believe that few children today know the names of common birds and such features of childhood (yours and mine, anyway) as the conker and the acorn? Such was the result of a recent survey by the National Trust “only a third of primary age children could identify a magpie, though nine out of ten could name a Dalek“.


Robert Macfarlane is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and author of several books on the environment, landscape, the environment and language. He and artist Jackie Morris have put together a fascinating combination of paintings and acrostics based on words from British nature.


The Foundling Museum in the heart of Bloomsbury explores the history of the Foundling Hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity and first public art gallery. But it’s not just telling a story; it’s aim is to inspire adults and children to make a positive contribution to society, by celebrating the power of individuals and the arts to change lives.

The Foundling Museum was established in 1739 by the philanthropist Thomas Coram (right) to care for babies at risk of abandonment.

Starlings : my favourite of all the paintings


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