The museum was originally opened as the Stephen G Beaumont Museum in 1974 at the Stanley Royd Hospital in Wakefield. The idea to set up a museum was developed by hospital secretary Mr Lawrence Ashworth.
The original museum was named after Mr Stephen G Beaumont the chairman of the committee who agreed to fund the museum and its development. The Stephen G Beaumont Museum focused exclusively on the history of Stanley Royd Hospital, which opened as the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum in 1818 and grew to become the largest mental health provider in West Yorkshire in the 19th and 20th century.
The Stephen G Beaumont Museum remained on the Stanley Royd Hospital site until 1995 when the hospital closed and the museum moved to its current location at Fieldhead.