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About us

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 based in south London since 1930.

Situated within the hospital grounds, in a stunning Art Deco building shared with the Bethlem Gallery, Bethlem Museum of the Mind was formally opened by artist Grayson Perry in March 2015. The museum cares for an internationally renowned collection of archives, art and historic objects, which together offer an unparalleled resource to support the history of mental healthcare and treatment.

Bethlem Museum of the Mind is governed by a registered charity, the Bethlem Art and History Collections Trust (charity number 1013523). You can view our annual report and accounts on the Charity Commission web-site, or read our impact report.

Impact reports

I was deeply moved and inspired by the art on display, and the space that has been made for this work. Art should not be viewed just as a visual culture but as an essential human process of self exploration and communication. The work the gallery and museum do is of vital importance and will create a legacy for the understanding of mental health for years to come. For me art is obsession, voyage of discovery and therapy all rolled into one. I look forward to what is in store for us at the Gallery and Museum in 2016, please join us.

– Grayson Perry

Find out more about the history

A brief history of Bethlem Hospital can be downloaded below.
If you would like to explore our history further take a look at our e-learning resources.

Object Lesson III

Discover more about the farm at Bethlem Royal Hospital in the 1920s - 1930s.

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Hospital Snapshots 9

Hear the latest in our discussions about the portrait photographs of patients taken by Henry Hering in the 19th century.

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Hospital Snapshots 10

Observable evidence was thought to be crucial in documenting changes and determining recovery so drawings and later photographs could be valuable tools. The case of Eliza Ash provides a good example of the type of noticeable change that might suggest progress. 

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Download our History PDF More about our history

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