The Bethlem Museum was established in 1970, as a small exhibition space in the new building which housed the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital archives. Originally intended to display historical documents and the few pictures and artefacts which had already been passed to the archives department for safekeeping, it was first opened to the public as the Bethlem Historical Museum. Since then the museum collections, and particularly the art collection, have continued to grow. The displays have been changed and renewed several times.
Because of the very limited space it is not possible to accommodate large groups of visitors in the museum. We suggest about ten as the maximum that can comfortably visit at one time. For the same reason we can only show a small selection of material from our collections. If you want to see a particular picture or object, please ask beforehand whether it is on show, and if it is not we will do our best to get it out of store for you.
At present the museum is used mainly to show works from the art collection, but it also contains some historical material, including:-
The magnificent stone figures by Caius Gabriel Cibber known as 'Raving and Melancholy Madness', from the gates of the 17th century Bethlem Hospital ('Bedlam').
Replicas of two 17th century alms-box figures, and a handsome 18th century alms-box, reminders of Bethlem's long history as a charitable institution for the poor.
A selection of restraint devices in use up to the 1830's.
A selection of documents from the archives relating to some of the people - patients, staff, and governors - who have been associated with Bethlem Hospital over a period of three centuries.
To see our full art collection click here.