MNN Galleries

7 unusual medical museums

By: Matt Hickman on Oct. 14, 2011, 9 a.m.
mannequins with dousing tub

Photo: St. Joseph Museums Inc.

4 of 9

Glore Psychiatric Museum

Location: St. Joseph, Mo.

Specialty: Mental health treatment, past and present — but mostly past

Gift shop grotesquerie: Stress Reliever Brain Keychain

Despite being relocated from a building once known as “State Lunatic Asylum No. 2,” there’s still an unsettling air at the Glore Psychiatric Museum, where the collection of “full-sized replicas, interactive displays, audio-visuals, artifacts and documents” focuses on the archaic — and frequently barbaric — methods once used to “treat” people suffering from mental illnesses. From straight jackets, fever cabinets and lobotomy instruments to electroshock devices and giant hamster wheels, many of the devices are “demonstrated” by '70s-era female glamour mannequins donated to the museum. (Shown here is a "dowsing tub," in which patients were repeatedly doused with ice-cold water.) Aside from the vintage department store mannequins chained and strapped into various devices, there’s also an artistic display of 1,466 inedible items — safety pins, screws, nails, buttons bottle caps, etc. — removed from the digestive tract of a former St. Joseph State Hospital patient. If anything, visitors will leave appreciative of the advances made in mental health treatment … and thankful that they weren’t accidentally locked into the museum overnight.