Sunday, February 6, 2011

Glore Psychiatric Museum Part 2: Arts & Crafts

Whew that last post was popular! If you're new to these parts and are on Facebook, click the link to the right to become a fan of Craves, Caves & Graves. Then you'll always know when new stuff is posted, plus that's the best way to find out about special events before I blog about them, so you don't miss any fun times. I know you've been eagerly awaiting part two, so here we go. Last week we talked about the history of St Joseph State Hospital and the treatment of mental illness over the years. Today we're going to talk about what the hospital patients did with their time there.

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St Joseph State Hospital was self sufficient in many ways. Patients worked under supervision on the farm, in the kitchens, and in the sewing room. At one time, there were 40 patients working under the supervision of 2 staff members in the sewing room.

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This was both practical and therapeutic. Weaving a heavy rug like this, for example, would let a patient work out their aggression, because it takes a lot of power to weave a tight rug. The rugs were then used around the hospital, or even sold to the public if they had a surplus.

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Patients who worked in the sewing room also made all the clothing and linens used in the hospital, from curtains and tablecloths to surgical supplies. They even made the camisoles, straitjackets, and mitts used as restraint devices.

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Patients also did art projects and crafts, some as therapy and some as recreation. There are several glass cases with various art projects of former patients.

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Above, one of my favorite items. This necklace was made from blue beads and chunks of potato that the patient enameled white. According to the tag, this jewelry became a huge fad in the hospital in the 1970s and was also made with parsnips, peas, and carrots. Below, another favorite. This picture is made of colored eggshells.

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And finally, The Last Supper carved into a piece of copper. I remember doing a project like this in 5th grade.

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There is also a display in the museum from Woodson Children's Psychiatric Hospital, which also has a fully accredited school. Since team sports would have been impractical, they had vocational programs like auto tech and wood shop. Students in these classes rebuilt two cars, the "Yellow Rose" 1978 Chevy Monte Carlo donated after a Kansas City flood, and the "Juke Box Hero" 1987 Toyota pickup, donated by the Toyota Motor Company.

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The Yellow Rose was not designed to start or run, but won many awards in Missouri car shows. The walnut running boards, dash, mirrors, and bumpers were all made by Woodson students in the wood shop.

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Juke Box Hero does actually run (or did) and Toyota engineers helped the students replace the 4-cylinder engine with a Supra 6. The students designed all the graphics, which were then donated by a St Joseph company. Juke Box Hero also won many awards from car shows, as you can see in the picture above.

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Not all the projects displayed in the Glore Museum were of the official variety. One of the best known exhibits, if you're the kind of person who follows this kind of thing, is the "Television Diary".

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As the story goes, in 1971 a male patient was seen slipping a piece of paper into a slot on the back of a working television set. The hospital electrician was called, and when the back was removed from the TV, they found over 500 scraps of paper inside, most of which seem to be letters or daily diary entries.

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It is not known whether the patient was using the television for storage, disposal, or transmittal. This display was created by a psychology teacher and two students from a nearby high school.

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Another well known display at Glore is the collection of 108,000 cigarette packages collected by a patient who thought that 100,000 packages could be traded in for a new wheelchair for the hospital. No tobacco company had such a program, but in 1969 the hospital administration gave a wheel chair to this patient's unit to acknowledge all the hard work he put into this project.

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This last project is one I didn't know about before our visit, but was far and away the most popular item amongst the members of our group. We spent a lot of time pouring over the detail and taking a million pictures.

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This is a bed sheet that was embroidered in a kind of diary style by a schizophrenic patient. You can see how the colors change in the middle of a sentence or even in the middle of a word.

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The Glore Psychiatric Museum is located at 3406 Frederick Ave in St Joseph, MO. Admission is $5 and that will get you into all the museums in the building (including St Joseph Museum and the Black Archives). Glore is also featured in 1,000 Places to See in the U.S.A. & Canada Before You Die, which I intend to buy tomorrow.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the detailed post! I was looking for more info on this interesting place! Much better info then on the website :-)

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  2. I was a patient here in my early teens and had no idea it was turned into a museum!

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  3. I was a patient here in my early teens and had no idea it was turned into a museum!

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