A visit to St. Joseph, Missouri brings you closer to an interesting museum that got its start in an abandoned ward of the St. Joseph State Hospital. In 1968, George Glore used the space to indulge in and showcase all of the historical psychiatric treatment devices he'd been collecting over the years. In this article, you will learn more about the Glore Psychiatric Museum and some of its intriguing exhibits.
George Glore had a collection of medical items that he had cultivated for more than 40 years. Over the course of the museum, it has switched hands from the State of Missouri to becoming part of the St. Joseph Museum. Originally, the museum showcased full size replica exhibits of 16th, 17th and 18th century "treatment" devices – some of which looked quite similar to torture devices.
Glore was interested in creating exhibits that would coincide with the celebration of mental health awareness week. The public was pleased with his efforts and even his superiors encouraged him to expand upon the exhibit. He started adding more mental illness items and the museum was soon established and flourished many years later. Glore continued to play a role by developing what has become one of the largest collections of mental health historical items. Eventually, he retired from the Missouri Department of Mental Health, but still had a hand in the museum from afar. He died in 2010.
The museum grew to include full-sized replicas, interactive displays, audio-visuals, artifacts and significant documents that touched upon the history of mental illness treatment. The museum has garnered so much positive attention that it won a place in the book titled "1,000 Places to See Before You Die in the USA and Canada" and has been recognized as "one of the 50 most unusual Museums in the country."
There are four floors that accommodate the vast collection that Glore helped jumpstart. Some of the features of the Glore Psychiatric Museum include:
• "Bath of Surprise" – A platform that resembles a gallows, which dumped a patient into icy water
• Working model of O'Halloran's Swing – a piece of equipment that spun strapped-in patients up to 100 RPMs
• Giant patient treadmill – looks like a large gerbil wheel for humans
• "Tranquilizer Chair" – An invention of Benjamin Rush ("The Father of American Psychiatry"), who was known for his support of using leeches and bleeding as treatments. A reproduction of the bleeding knife that Rush gave to drug manufacturers is also on display. The invention was recalled following an incident of a patient snatching one off of a psychiatrist's desk and stabbing him to death.
• Art created from swallowed objects – probably inspired by a patient who swallowed 1,446 items, including nails, screws, spoon tops and safety pins. The patient eventually died during surgery.
• Example of hydrotherapy and wet sheet packs, where patients were rolled in wet sheets
• Instruments used to perform lobotomies
• A fever-cabinet used for heating syphilis victims
To this day, the Glore Museum continues to collect artifacts and expand their wealth of exhibits. For example, one gallery offers an array of contemporary patient art. Visit the basement and you will encounter a functioning morgue. If you are interested in visiting this Missouri attraction, you will find the Glore Psychiatric Museum at:
3408 Frederick Avenue (One Mile West Of I-29, Exit 47)
St. Joseph , Missouri 64506
Phone: 816-364-1209 or 800-530-8866
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