New photo book on American Asylums - preview on New Scientist's online gallery - Atlas Obscura
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New photo book on American Asylums - preview on New Scientist’s online gallery

Asylum photography by Christopher Payne

New Scientist has posted a beautiful gallery of Christopher Payne’s photographs of American asylums, offering a sneak peek at his book, Asylum: Inside the closed world of state mental hospitals, definitely going on my wish list tout de suite like.

From the publisher’s description:

“Architect and photographer Christopher Payne spent six years documenting the decay of state mental hospitals like these, visiting seventy institutions in thirty states. Through his lens we see splendid, palatial exteriors (some designed by such prominent architects as H. H. Richardson and Samuel Sloan) and crumbling interiors—chairs stacked against walls with peeling paint in a grand hallway; brightly colored toothbrushes still hanging on a rack; stacks of suitcases, never packed for the trip home.”

Many of these institutions are enormous and architecturally stunning, with elaborate gardens - others are sterile and coldly institutional. Now abandoned, mostly left to decay, some are already in the Atlas like the Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts (image 3).

Link to the New Scientist gallery>

Link to the book Asylum on Amazon>

Link to Christopher Payne’s photography website>

More asylums in the Atlas>