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By Ashton Zimmerman
What’s more mysterious than the workings of the mind?
Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph is dedicated to the study of mental health.
The museum covers the history of State Lunatic Asylum #2, which started in 1874. Glore’s exhibits are now housed on the grounds where this hospital was, but the health care patients and staff have since moved across the street to the Northwest Missouri Psychiatric Rehabilitation Facility.
The Glore Psychiatric Museum is an eerie peek at the tools and equipment once used to cure mental illness. Exhibits are arranged to look like procedure rooms of the past, with descriptions of psychiatric practices and methods that were used at the time. Replicas, actual instruments used, and mannequins show how disorders were treated. One exhibit focuses on the use of electroshock therapy.
What makes this museum particularly unsettling is the detailed accounts of how mental illness affected the patients of State Lunatic Asylum #2. One exhibit displays the contents of a patient’s stomach. Nails, buttons, pins—you name it. This patient had a compulsion for swallowing unusual objects. In total, the doctors found 1,446 different pieces.
What you might not expect to find at this museum is an expansive collection of art created by patients of the psychiatric hospital. These creations express some of the emotions and ideas contained within the patients’ minds. One schizophrenic patient, who did dozens of embroidery works, proves there is beauty in chaos. The alternating thread colors and embroidered words give an insight into her psyche.
This story originally ran in the February 2013 issue of Missouri Life. For more stories like this, subscribe to Missouri Life.