The new Bethlem Museum of the Mind is based on the Bethlem Hospital site near Beckenham. It has been set up with values which very much reflect the working practices of SPN. The explicit aim of the new Museum is to assist the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust in its anti-stigma and mental health promotion work, and to help the public and its own staff reach a more nuanced understanding of the difficulties faced by people with a range of different mental health diagnoses. The museum has an education room which will host a weekly programme of visits from schools and colleges, a readers room for those undertaking research into the history of mental health care, and it also has a partner organisation – the Bethlem Gallery.
The Gallery aims to highlight the importance of art as therapy – whether explicitly in formal art therapy, or in the process of providing service users with the materials to make art and express their inner turmoil. Bethlem Royal Hospital, also known as ‘Bedlam’, was founded in 1247, making it one of the world’s oldest hospitals for the care and treatment of people with mental health difficulties. The hospital has been collecting artwork created by its patients for over 150 years, but the success of an exhibition, ‘Art Beyond Bedlam’, led to the establishment of a permanent gallery space on the site. Founded in 1997, The Bethlem Art Gallery showcases the talent of artists who have themselves experienced mental health issues and been helped by the Trust.
The onsite museum and gallery is now home to an extensive archive of work by artists, past and present, including Richard Dadd, William Kurelek, Jonathan Martin, Vaslav Nijinsky, Louis Wain and many others. The gallery’s international reputation is growing, thanks to the small, dedicated team who manage the gallery and who provide support and encouragement to artists who might not feel able to explore their creativity from a more conventional platform.
For more information on the Gallery visit www.bethlemgallery.com
The Museum will be formally opened by Grayson Perry on 19th March, but is already open to the public from Wednesday to Friday 9.30-4.30, and on Saturday 10 to 5.00, although these times may change as the Museum becomes more established.
Current details can be found on the Museum website or just by Googling, Bethlem Museum of the Mind
SPN Executive Committee