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How Bethlem shaped the future of mental health care

PUBLISHED: 12:11 20 September 2016 | UPDATED: 12:11 20 September 2016

Abandoned Goods

Abandoned Goods

Branka Jukic

A new exhibition at the gallery will feature historical material and artworks

A new exhibition at Bethlem Royal Hospital will explore how the institution has shaped the complex landscape of mental health care.

Featuring historical material and medical records alongside individual testimonies and works by artists, the exhibition will emphasise the perspectives and lived experiences of individuals.

A key part of the project is the collaboration between Bethlem Gallery and Museum and Wellcome Collection, which brings together works by contemporary artists with objects from the historical archives.

Meanwhile, Abandoned Goods, an essay film by Pia Borg and Edward Lawrenson, tells the story of more than 5,500 pieces of patient artwork.

Co-curator Mike Jay, an author and historian, said: “Preserved in popular imagination as Bedlam, the Bethlem Royal Hospital is perhaps the oldest institution of its kind in the world, and has witnessed the entire history of mental illness and psychiatry.

“Its story is the perfect focus for Wellcome Collection to explore how medicine, art and culture define mental illness, and the big questions it raises about the individual and society.”

Bedlam: The Asylum and Beyond will run at Wellcome Collection, Euston Road, from September 15 to January 15.

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