AIM Conservation Grant: Bethlem Museum of the Mind

The following is an account from Bethlem Museum of the Mind on how an AIM conservation grant of £1,560 has helped to conserve two iconic statues.

 Project: The Conservation of Raving and Melancholy Madness Statues

Bethlem Museum of the Mind is a newly renovated museum situated within the grounds of Bethlem Royal Hospital. We have recently moved into our new building, and our much improved and enlarged gallery spaces offer visitors the chance to explore the history surrounding mental health and its treatment, as well as engaging with and questioning wider issues associated with mental health.

The grant applied for from AIM was intended for the conservation of the museum’s two prized possessions, twin Portland stone statues of ‘Raving’ and ‘Melancholy Madness’, created by Danish sculptor Caius Gabriel Cibber (1630-1700), circa 1676. The statues were originally located at the hospital’s Moorfields site, and depict the two main diagnoses of mental disorder at the time. Over time the statues have been eroded and cracks have formed. The overall project aims involved the conservation of the damage, as well as the installation and interpretation of the statues within the new museum foyer on new supporting plinths.

Cropped_Bethlem _Gallery_MuseumHR

The scope of the grant allowed specifically for the conservation of the statues, the aim of which was to stabilise the statues for permanent display. ICON registered conservators Taylor Pearce carried out an initial assessment, before undertaking the work. Old resin repairs were removed and new, more suitable, repairs were implemented. Assessment of the steel pins inserted in 1975 was also carried out. The installation process was also overseen by Taylor Pearce, and museum staff. All conservation work was done in situ, after the statues had been installed in their new home.

The statues now sit proudly in the grand art deco entrance to the new museum, in a stable and secure state, post-conservation. A proven talking piece for visitors and staff alike, they dramatically command attention, and encourage debate, as was intended with their new positioning and location.

Jillian Gregory

Conservator

Bethlem Museum of the Mind

 You can find out more about AIM grants HERE

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