The Cultural History of Mental Health in Bethlem Museum of the Mind

Stella Chazelles, Cecilie Nilherth Rasmussen, Christina Louise Torpe Blatch, Gwenaëlle Marine Joubert, Elena Plamenova Kirilova & Juaneeta Devi Sowamber

Studenteropgave: Basisprojekt


The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relevance of the 19th and 20th century English history of mental health as presented in the permanent exhibition at Bethlem Museum of the Mind. The goal is to gain knowledge on how the exhibition makes the past relevant for a present-day audience using different museological concepts and cultural history. The project will present a historical context of mental health in England followed by the theories about the strategic system of representations, interactiveness and spacio-, meta- and multi-layered-narratives. Subsequently, the paper will apply these theories and museological concepts in the analysis to investigate how the exhibition utilizes its different elements and installations to make a relevant narrative about mental health for a contemporary audience. Furthermore, the project will use different problematizations of the past within the field of cultural history in order to analyse how the museum connects the past with the present. Following the analysis it can be concluded, that the permanent exhibition is making mental health in the 19th and 20th century in England relevant for today's visitor by using a multi-layered narrative together with scaffolding and positioning exercises to make it easily comprehensible for the visitor. Furthermore, the findings show that the museum utilizes cultural history to make a coherent narrative about present mental health as being defined by its past, and thus emphasizes the idea of what the average visitor can use history for.

UddannelserBasis - International Humanistisk Bacheloruddannelse, (Bachelor uddannelse) Basis
Udgivelsesdato17 dec. 2019
Antal sider66
VejledereAnne Brædder


  • Museologi
  • Kulturhistorie
  • Mental sundhed