Visit to the new Museum of the Mind at Bethlem Hospital
WBRA were invited to a talk on the history of Bethlem Royal Hospital and its predecessors in London. Caroline Smith, Education and Outreach Officer, gave a talk to about 25 members and friends who attended on 16 September. Bethlem Royal Hospital was founded in 1247 and was the first institution in the UK to specialise in the care of the mentally ill. The hospital continues to provide in-patient care as part of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, and has been at its current location on Monks Orchard Road since 1930
The Museum of the Mind has been open to the public since February 2015 in the Hospital’s former administration building. Its displays offer unparalleled resources to support learning about the history of mental healthcare and treatment. There is no charge for entry.
Bethlem Royal Hospital, the Maudsley Hospital and Warlingham Park Hospital, and a collection of historic objects and art, including works by former Bethlem patients such as Jonathan Martin, Richard Dadd and Louis Wain. Ms Smith gave a fascinating account of the development of mental health care in London and the south east. She told of how men and women were always separately housed but “visitors” were allowed, on payment of a donation, to see how the patients lived, which sadly but inevitably led to a voyeurism that we would frown on today.
We also visited an exhibition on the Home Front in WWI, and the permanent museum.
There are also regular free events at the museum including:-
7 November, 2pm – archivist Colin Gale provides an introduction to Bethlem’s ‘Criminal Lunatic’ Department on which artist Richard Dadd ws a patient.
12 November, 7 pm – Mike Jay speaks on the life of James Tilly Matthews, and signs copies of his book The Influencing Machine
28 November, 2pm – Gill Smith discusses the after-life of Bethlem’s third building as the Imperial War Museum
5 December, 10am,- Come and create your own Louis Wain Christmas Cat tree decorations to take home, and help decorate the tree in the museum. This is a free drop-in event suitable for all ages.
See the full programme on http://museumofthemind.org.uk/about