Improving the environment

Bethlem Museum and Gallery relocated

Bethlem Museum of the Mind and Bethlem Gallery, part of Bethlem Royal Hospital, are thriving in their new locations thanks to the generosity of supporters like you. Their historical collections and range of artworks are on display to the public free of charge, and they aim to increase awareness of the essential role of art in mental health.

'The visit made me challenge my views on what and who people with psychiatric disorders are,' Visitor, Bethlem Museum of the Mind. 

In February 2015, the museum and gallery were both moved from their smaller sites to the hospital’s former administration building where they now have more space and are closer together. Thanks to your help, these important institutions have come together under one roof where each can benefit from the other’s expertise.

No longer buried in anonymous buildings, they continue to help raise awareness of mental health, challenge stigma and deliver an education program to service users and members of the public. The new site helps create a link between the historical collections held in Bethlem Archives and Museum and works by current service users at SLaM which are displayed in Bethlem Gallery.

Victoria Northwood, Head of Archives and Museum, explains why the move to the new building is so important.

‘The Archives and Museum at Bethlem have always been rather a ”hidden gem”’, she says. ‘The move to new facilities will be transformative, enabling us to publicise our collections more widely and welcome an increased number of visitors.’

Curating the history of mental illnessBryan Charnley painting

The Archives and Museum service at Bethlem began in 1969. Much of its international reputation as a leader in the arts and mental health stems from its association with Bethlem Royal Hospital. The hospital was founded in 1247 and was originally called Bedlam. It was the first UK institution to provide specialised care for mentally ill people and moved to south London in 1930.

The Museum of the Mind features permanent and temporary exhibitions focusing on the history of mental healthcare. It records the lives and experiences and celebrates the achievements of people living with mental health problems, giving them a voice.

With this in mind, the museum houses the historic collections of Bethlem Hospital, the Maudsley and Warlingham Park Hospital, alongside historical objects and art that includes the work of former patients. It colourfully and sometimes harrowingly illustrates the history of the country’s mental health system.


Exhibitions by service users

The Bethlem Gallery was founded in 1997 and was previously part of the Occupational Therapy department at Bethlem Royal Hospital. Now, thanks to your help, it has been provided with a new exhibition space, bringing its total to two.

The gallery showcases the work of service users at South London and Maudsley, providing career development opportunities for its artists and campaigning for better access to the arts in mental healthcare.

It maintains a steady stream of exhibitions, most recently Outside In: Bethlem, which ran from 19 August and finishes on 11 September 2015, by artists Daniel and Rodney. The exhibition explores abstract geometric forms and colours.

‘It takes me a couple of months to do one piece, as I do it bit by bit in my own time and space,’ artist Daniel says. ’You can always find a face in my drawings that for me represents Archangel Metatron, accompanied by the third eye.’

Like Bethlem, Outside In is an organisation that facilitates access to the art world for marginalised creators. Thanks to your generosity, more artists can show their work, supporting them on the journey to recovery.

Image: An artwork by Daniel from the gallery's most recent exhibition


Preserving our history

‘We’re thrilled to have opened this pioneering and unique space which brings together a rich collection of history and art,’ says Paul Mitchell, CEO of Maudsley Charity. ‘The museum and gallery project is a perfect example of how charitable donations can help to support and preserve our history and enable us to provide a space that is open and accessible to everyone.

‘We work hard to break down barriers and challenge stigma in mental health and this project will enable us to work even closer with our local communities and the wider public. The project would not have been possible without the help of a number of large donors and we are especially grateful to South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund who made substantial donations on top of the investment made by the Maudsley Charity.’

Your support enables us to fund projects like this that help people with mental health issues and challenge stigma. Please consider making a donation today so we can continue our work.

Image above right: Moonlight Maiden, by Bryan Charnley, held in Bethlem Museum's collection