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Chair of the Foundling Museum, Larissa Joy FRSA, invites Fellows to celebrate female pioneers through its latest display.

As part of the Foundling Museum’s 2018 programme of events to coincide with Vote100, they present First Amongst Equals, a display celebrating today’s female pioneers.


Remarkable women who have shaped contemporary British society by achieving a first within their respective fields have chosen objects that speak to them from the Museum’s Collection. Spanning 300 years of social history, culture and philanthropy, selections enable visitors to see the Collection from different perspectives, to make connections between the past and the present, and to reflect on women’s ongoing struggle for equality.


Selected items range from tokens (small identifying objects left with babies by their mothers when handing them over to the care of the Foundling Hospital), to personal letters and musical memorabilia. Contributors include: Maria Balshaw (first female Director of Tate); Moira Cameron (first female ‘Beefeater’, Yeoman Warder of the Tower of London); Baroness Hale of Richmond (first female President of the Supreme Court); Francesca Hayward (first black female Principal Dancer of the Royal Ballet); Carris Jones (first female chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral); Joanne Moore (first female tailor to have a men’s tailoring business on Saville Row); and Frances O’Grady (first female General Secretary of the TUC).


First Amongst Equals forms part of the Foundling Museum’s year-long programme of exhibitions, displays and events to mark the centenary of female suffrage, by celebrating women’s contribution to British society, culture and philanthropy from the 1720s to the present day. Thomas Coram, founder of the Foundling Hospital (the story of which is told by the Museum), was a pioneer of women’s equality, championing girls’ education and vocational training, and arguing that literacy was essential to being a good mother.


First Amongst Equals is on display at the Foundling Museum until 13 January 2019. Items will gradually go on display throughout the year - look out for the purple labels in the Museum to discover the chosen objects. For further information and opening times visit their website.

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