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Discover new ways to engage with our collections to learn something new and be inspired.

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Our visitors tell us

  • The visit made me challenge my views on what and who people with psychiatric disorders are.

  • I was inspired by some of the stories the paintings told.

  • Students also really enjoyed the visit to the museum and gallery as they felt very moved by the power of some of the items they saw.

  • This is a wonderful resource to have for schools and students. Thank you for making these visits possible as it can bring one of the least practical aspects of the course to life.

  • The visit was a life changing experience.

  • I learnt that there are two ways of feeling lost - mentally and physically.

    The thing that stuck in my mind was all the ways people can be sad and how they show it.

  • My students have said they have learnt to open their minds – I agree, as a few of them seemed to have preconceptions about mental illness that I hadn’t been able to shake from them, until they visited.

  • The skills to analyse paintings and to look through evidence from case notes was beneficial for the students as it helped develop evaluation and analysis skills.

  • Having driven past many times I have always wondered what is over your boundary fence.

Case Studies

Creative Curriculum

Our most obvious curriculum links are with art and psychology but we believe these are not the only areas in which our collections can inspire. We have a wealth of material that is relevant to history, religious studies, citizenship, sociology …..! We have also completed a number of creative projects putting together secondary school students with authors and illustrators to produce imaginative responses.

Following initial research sessions in their school and local libraries, students spent time examining parts of the collection from nineteenth century case notes and photographs to art work in a wide range of styles and media. Guided by published professionals, they used these as a stimulus for their own work with stunning results. 

Research Projects

We are committed to making learning a lifelong experience. Collaborative learning is often the most rewarding and we were delighted to facilitate a shared learning project with the University of the Third Age. Over twelve weeks, participants carried out research into items from Bethlem’s collection using the archive here but also additional sources off site. Staff at the archives and museum assisted and shared their knowledge and skills, for example helping researchers read nineteenth century handwriting and find their way around historical case records.

Our new home will provide much more space for artefacts, giving us the opportunity to bring objects out of storage – sometimes for the first time. It was essential that we added to our knowledge of their manufacture, use and history. Our excellent team of researchers came up with all kinds of interesting information about items as diverse as sporting trophies, tablet makers and drug jars. All the items researched will be on display in the new museum or available in our loan boxes.

Some of their research is available in the Bethlem Blog series Object Lessons

Transition Project

Moving to secondary school is a key moment in a young person’s life and can be a challenging experience. It might raise questions about identity, on-going friendships and peer pressure. New situations and potentially risky behaviours need to be managed. We worked for half a term with a year six class and their teacher to explore this. Working with Bethlem’s archives and art collections created a sense of distance and allowed students to access and discuss their own feelings in a safe way.

The project was based around three areas: recognising stressful situations; being yourself; communicating your feelings. Students visited Bethlem and carried out their own investigations using the collection of 1850s photographs, case notes and key pieces of art. They also recorded their own impressions of the art and artefacts in the museum. Back at school the class followed this up with work in literacy and art before carrying their work into PSHE. Students researched and discussed the possible causes of mental illness and created Power Point presentations to inform others. A Samaritans volunteer was invited to talk to them about active listening, practising using open questions and giving 'verbal hugs'. 

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