Exhibition | Feeding the 400

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on September 13, 2016


Frederick Cayley Robinson, Orphan Girls Entering the Refectory of a Hospital, 1915, oil on canvas (London: Wellcome Library). According to Art UK (the operating name of the Public Catalogue Foundation), the picture is one “in a set of four allegorical paintings on the theme of the ‘Acts of mercy’ commissioned from F. Cayley Robinson for the Middlesex Hospital in 1912. The hospital was demolished in 2008 and the paintings were acquired from the health authority in 2009.”

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From The Foundling Museum:

Feeding the 400
The Foundling Museum, London, 23 September 2016 — 8 January 2017

Curated by Jane Levi

Based on new research, guest curator Jane Levi presents the multi-faceted impact that food and eating regimes had on children at the Hospital from 1740 to 1950. This fascinating story is explored through art, archival material, photographs and the voices of former pupils, whose memories of food are captured in the Museum’s extensive sound archive.

Feeding the 400 explodes myths and misconceptions around eating at the Hospital, demonstrating how the institution’s food choices were far more than just questions of economy, nutrition and health. Working with historians, scientists and cultural practitioners, the exhibition brings alive the connections between what, when, where and why the foundlings ate what they ate; the beliefs and science that underpinned these decisions; and their physiological and psychological effects. Alongside archival material, paintings and objects including tableware from the Foundling Museum collection, a newly commissioned sound work evokes the experience of communal eating, conjuring sounds common to the Hospital’s dining rooms. Feeding the 400 is supported by a Wellcome Trust People Award.

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