Bethlem Royal Hospital Museum, London

Bethlem Royal Hospital Museum of the Mind, South London and Maudsley NHS Trust

Bethlem Royal Hospital Museum

Building Development in London, UK – design by Fraser Brown MacKenna

Art Fund Museum of the Year Shortlist – 10 May 2016

Bethlem Museum of the Mind, London
photograph © Polly Braden

3 Dec 2012

Museum of the Mind in London

Museum of the Mind – archive & gallery at Bethlem Royal Hospital, London, southeast England


Design: Fraser Brown MacKenna Architects

Fraser Brown MacKenna have won an invited design competition run by the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust to create a new “Museum of the Mind” at Bethlem Royal Hospital, due to open in 2014.

Bethlem is one of the world’s oldest hospitals for the treatment of mental illness. The Bethlem Archives and Museum Service was established at the hospital as a small exhibition space in 1970 and now houses over 450 works of art by artists linked to the hospital or the field of mental illness, including pieces by Richard Dadd and Louis Wain who both once spent time at Bethlem.

Museum of the Mind National Centre for Bowel Cancer Surgical Innovation National Centre for Bowel Cancer Surgical Innovation London NCBRSI Queen Mary University of London NCBRSI London
pictures Courtesy Fraser Brown MacKenna

The archive contains a continuous record of the hospital since 1559 and contains fragile and valuable records. Our proposals involve the refurbishment and extension of the former Administration Building, which retains a stunning Art Deco reception area and staircase as well as the historic Boardroom of the hospital.

The new museum will house environmentally controlled archive storage, a conservation studio, dedicated spaces to accommodate archive researchers and education visits and galleries for temporary exhibitions. The focal point of the new museum will be a permanent display which explores the long history of mental health care and treatment at Bethlem and elsewhere.

Key to our design is a desire to ensure ensure the building itself plays a significant role in forming the visitor experience – the exhibition will conclude within a space for quiet reflection and contemplation where visitors can take time out from sometimes confronting experiences. This space will be provided by a contemporary glazed extension, designed to complement the existing building in terms of scale and proportion. This unique room will direct views to the landscaped grounds of the hospital and display poetry to inspire the visitor’s imagination.

Museum of the Mind Bethlem Royal Hospital images / information from Fraser Brown MacKenna Architects

Museum of the Mind at Bethlem Royal Hospital design : Fraser Brown MacKenna Architects

Location:Bethlem Royal Hospital, London, UK

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