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Creating Collaborations: piloting collaborative working at the Museum of the Mind


In 2023, Bethlem Museum of the Mind was awarded Diversity Matters grant funding from Museums Development London (on behalf of Arts Council England), to support the development of collaborative working practice. A group of participants attended workshops that focussed on the history and context of the museum, and how museum staff approach organisational planning, collections management and curation. Artist Beth Hopkins led two workshops, and the group created mono-prints based on aspects of their own lives. In a popup display that the group called Meaningful, Emotional Experiences: the Beautiful Power of Memories and Imaginings, these prints were displayed in the museum’s permanent gallery until June 2024.

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Diving into Myself, by N.J.

In addition to learning about the history of the hospital and discussing museum operations, the group took ownership of the project and its outcomes. As well as devising a method to workshop the exhibition’s title, the group expressed an interest in creating a publication to accompany their displayed artwork. Together we created a zine, compiling extended interpretation for each set of artworks and notes from the workshops. 

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Working in partnership with participants with lived experience of mental health issues has been valuable for us as a museum focussed on the experience of mental illness. Our programming aims to explore the diversity and spectrum of mental health issues, and it is necessary for us to centre that experience through involving those with that lived experience within this work. Creating Collaborations has laid the groundwork for future collaborative working in the museum, to enable us to continue to centre lived experience of mental illness and address the stigma that surrounds it. 

Rebecca Raybone, Collections and Exhibitions Officer