Artist Richard Dadd, a patient at Bethlem (courtesy Bethlem Gallery and Museum)
The name Bedlam is so evocative of chaos and madness, the real history of one of the world’s oldest institutions for the treatment of mental illness often gets detached from its public presence. Bethlem Royal Hospital, which still operates as part of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, has had a museum since 1970, but it was long cramped into a small space without proper room for a history that dates back to 1247 CE. Last month, it reopened as the Bethlem Museum of the Mind in the former administrative building of the hospital in London’s south suburban Bromley.
Bethlem Museum of the Mind (Bethlem Royal Hospital, Monks Orchard Road, Beckenham, England) is open free to the public.