doc

A museum in Beckenham is one of five in the UK to be shortlisted for a prestigious award.

The Bethlem Museum of the Mind at the Bethlem Royal Hospital is a finalist for this year’s Museum of the Year award.

The £100,000 prize, run by the Art Fund, is given annually to an 'outstanding' museum which has shown ‘exceptional imagination, innovation and achievement’.

Victoria Northwood, director of the museum, said: “Being selected as a Museum of the Year 2016 finalist caps a magnificent year for us at Bethlem.

“Inviting people to step beyond gates of a psychiatric hospital is not always the easiest of propositions but with every person that comes into our beautiful grounds and into the Museum, the stigma surrounding mental illness is reduced.

“Making the Museum of the Year shortlist is a tribute to every person who worked to create the new Museum, as well as the artists - current and former Bethlem patients - whose work we are proud to display.”

News Shopper:

Bethlem Museum of the Mind in Beckenham

The museum moved from a cramped Portekabin into a refurbished art deco building at the heart of the hospital in 2015 and was officially opened by artist Grayson Perry.

The gallery spaces explore mental health issues and the reasons why people arrive at Bethlem Psychiatric Hospital, Europe’s first and oldest psychiatric institution.

It houses art and historical artefacts, as well as works by current artists and hospital service users.

Featured work includes paintings and drawings by former patients Richard Dadd, William Kurelek, Louis Wain and Jonathan Martin.

There are also several world-renowned statues, the oldest of which is ‘Raving and Melancholy Madness’ by Caius Gabriel Cibber from 1676 which stood above the gates when the hospital was based in Moorfields in the 17th century.

News Shopper:

‘Raving and Melancholy Madness’ by Caius Gabriel Cibber. Photo: Bethlem Museum of the Mind

The only other London museum to be shortlisted is the Victoria and Albert museum in Kensington.

The other three finalists are York Art Gallery in York, Jupiter Artland in West Lothian and Arnolfini in Bristol.

The winner will be announced at the Natural History Museum on Wednesday July 6.

Last year’s winner was the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester.