Four Floors + a Gift Shop: A History of Psychiatry Roadtrip

9 July 2013


This is a special post co-authored by Jennifer Bazar and Jacy Young and published simultaneously at both the Advances in the History of Psychology (AHP) and FieldNotes blogs.

The 45th annual meeting of Cheiron was held at the end of June in Irving, Texas – 22 hours didn’t seem like a long enough a drive, so we decided to detour a few hours to swing through St Joseph, Missouri. What, you may be wondering, would draw two historians of psychology so eagerly to Missouri? Why, the Glore Psychiatric Museum of course!

The Glore Psychiatric Museum is the largest psychiatric-focused museum (that the two of us know of) in North America. It is frequently named a “must see” on lists of unusual museums and was named in the book 1,000 Places to See Before you Die in the USA and Canada. It has likewise been featured in a number of televised documentaries on The Learning Channel, The Discovery Channel, The Discovery Health Channel, PBS, Fox News, The Science Channel, and Superstation WTBS. You can understand our willingness to re-route our drive down to Texas!

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Surprises Still Coming After Each New Museum

6 April 2011

Day trip: Utica Crib in Canada?

Yesterday I took a tour of the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital Collection at St. Joseph’s Healthcare (Mountain/West 5th campus) in Hamilton, Ontario. I had heard rumours of a museum for several years but had been told it was no longer open – then my Grandmother sent me an article from The Hamilton Spectator with the title “Museum has shocking artifacts” from this past August. The article annoyed me because it seemed full of sensationalist stereotypes (ex. it opens with: “They were like jumper cables for the brain. Hook ’em up, hit the switch and zap!”) but it also explained that the collection was open to the public by appointment and provided all the contact information. After a long series of phone tag messages with the volunteer coordinator, I set up an appointment for a tour. Read the rest of this entry »

“Meeting” the famous Phineas Gage

11 March 2011

Day Trip: the Warren Anatomical Museum

I finally made it to the Warren Anatomical Museum – it’s been on my “things to see in Boston” list for ages but for some reason has always seemed too far out of the way on previous trips.

The museum officially dates to 1847. It was created by John Collins Warren who started the collection while he was still a young medical student in the late eighteenth century. Warren graduated from Harvard in 1797 and later practiced with his father at the same institution (that his father had helped to found), assisting with lectures and anatomical demonstrations. He would go on to become a Professor of Anatomy and Surgery and would perform the first public demonstration of ether as an anesthetic at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 1846.

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Expanding content

2 September 2010

Expansion + Material Culture Summer Institute

I’ve decided to post about more than just my asylum research (although asylum-related research will remain the focus). To make the transition, I’ve included a photo (top left) that I recently took while at the Summer Institute in Material Culture Research held by the Canada Science & Technology Museum in Ottawa, Ontario. The machine is from the Weyburn Mental Hospital in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. It was was donated shortly after the hospital was torn down in the spring of 2009. The collection includes several medical machines as well as some green tiles from the walls of the institution.   Read the rest of this entry »

Tour Recap

8 August 2010

I mapped my route (roughly) from the past month: 15 asylum museum-related stops in 4 provinces and 4 states!

Museum, building tour, and grounds tour!

15 July 2010

Stop 4: Brandon Mental Health Centre Museum & Tour

If you are ever passing through Brandon, Manitoba I highly recommend stopping to view the Museum run by the volunteer association of the Brandon Mental Health Centre. If you know you’re on your way through, I would also call in advance and request a tour.

We spent an absolutely fantastic morning in Brandon with three of the Museum’s volunteers: Doug Smith (president of the association), Bill Hillman, and Len (who’s surname I did not catch unfortunately). They had all worked at BMHC prior to its closing in the late 1990s and were not only familiar with the institution’s history but had a number of interesting personal stories to share.  [I should also add that I am extremely grateful to Mrs. Smith who kindly directed us to the property over the phone after we got horribly lost!]

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