There are many types of museums available in the Midwest, and one of the more unique is the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri. What started as the ‘State Lunatic Asylum No. 2’ in 1874, has been transformed into a museum dedicated to showing the path of treatment from the 16th century until modern times. The buildings that housed the asylum have been split up, with a large portion now being used as the Western Reception Diagnostic Correctional Center. The museum is housed in a building that was constructed in 1968 as a medical wing for the mental hospital.
George Glore was an employee of the hospital, and helped construct a series of displays about primitive mental health treatment. Misdiagnosis ran rampant, and the mentally ill were often labeled as possessed and wicked. The treatment styles ranged from abusive to murderous. The displays that George constructed are still on-site for visitors to examine at the Glore Psychiatric Museum.
Over his career, which spanned more than 40 years, George Glore expanded his collection into what is now considered one of the best exhibitions that explain the evolution of mental health care in the United States. Over time the museum has expanded its collection to over 10,000 items on display or in storage.
The Glore Psychiatric Museum is spread across four floors, and includes some additional exhibits on other subjects in a separate attached wing. Your visit begins on the 1st floor, with a brief video highlighting the history of the facility. It also includes a short overview of the history of mental health care through the ages.
Downstairs, in the basement, visitors find the surgical facilities, as well as the on-site morgue. Throughout the rooms guests will find placards describing the treatments that patients received.
As you make your way up each floor, you will find exhibits on various treatment techniques. This self-guided tour allows each guest to experience the museum at their own pace. Since the building was originally a treatment facility, the pathway through the exhibits can sometimes require visitors to double back through areas. An elevator is on site for those not wishing to navigate the stairs.
It is quite interesting to see the advances made over the centuries, and especially the past few decades. What was once treated with “stomping the demons out of people” has now moved on to more acceptable methods. As the doctor in the video explains, most of the time the treating physician was using the knowledge that was readily available to them at the time. He also remarked on whether in the future will his current-day treatments be looked upon as barbaric.
The museum at times will offer space for temporary exhibits. One such exhibit is ‘The Secret Project’, which showcases artwork inspired secrets shared via social media, emails, and in person. The artist uses mixed media to create artwork based on the shared secrets. This exhibit will run through April 2017.
The Glore Psychiatric Museum is located at 3406 Frederick Avenue in St. Joe, Mo. They are open Monday through Saturday from 10 am-5pm, and Sunday from 1 pm-5pm. Admission is $6.00 for adults and $4.00 for students. Please note that some of the displays may start some interesting conversations with your children. Admission to the museum will also allow entrance into the museums in the adjoining wing.