Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Lunacy Museum

One of the most unusual museums you'll ever visit is the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri. It's on the grounds of what was originally named "State Lunatic Asylum Number Two" when it was established in 1874. It's packed with full-sized replicas, interactive displays, artifacts and documents detailing how treatment of the mentally-ill--and others--evolved over the last 135 years.

The facility opened with 25 patients in 1974, then grew to over 3,000 at its peak in the 1950s as it expanded to provide treatment for tuberculosis patients, syphilitics, alcoholics, and patients with physical disabilities. The museum, located in a building on the original grounds that had once been used as the admitting ward and the clinic for hospital patients, not only details the history of treatment in this hospital but other mental health facilities from as early as the 16th century.

Exhibits almost guaranteed to give you pause include the tranquilizer chair, dousing tub, and an amazing array of objects swallowed over time by a singularly disturbed patient.

The Glore Psychiatric Museum is located at 3406 Frederick Avenue about one mile west of Interstate 29 in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

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