Glore Psychiatric Museum – St. Joseph, Missouri - Atlas Obscura
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Glore Psychiatric Museum

Saint Joseph Museums

The history of the treatment of mental illness, illustrated in all its gory detail, and housed in an asylum. 

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Located in St. Joseph, Missouri, the Glore Psychiatric Museum depicts the 130-year history of the State Lunatic Asylum No. 2 and the overall evolution of the treatment of mental illness. The museum is named for George Glore, who worked for the Missouri Department of Mental Health for most of his 41-year career. A history buff, Glore worked with staff and patients to create replicas of 16th, 17th and 18th-century treatment devices. Hospital officials later encouraged Glore to expand the exhibit into what we see today.

While the original 1874 building is now used as part of the city’s prison, four floors of a more recent section of the asylum, along with the once fully operational morgue, now house the museum collection. The collection consists of actual equipment, full-size replicas, and dioramas. Highlights include lobotomy instruments, the Wheel, a wooden treadmill device, and the Tranquilizer Chair created by Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and founder of America’s oldest operating theater. The museum also has artifacts from the other Missouri state hospitals.

The museum also includes art done by patients over the years. The art consists of traditional paint on canvas, embroidery, and sculptures. There is also the more bizarre, such as an arrangement of objects swallowed by a patient, two cars created by the adolescents of the asylum, and a previous patient’s collection of items.

There are now three other museums housed in the same building. There is a one-room Doll Museum that has dolls from all over the world and an interactive Barbie exhibit. In another wing, the Black Archives Museum is dedicated to Black American history in the area. It is complete with several accounts and artifacts found from the Civil War era. There is also another wing dedicated to Native American History, which features several artifacts, real life accounts, and education on tribes from the region.

Know Before You Go

From I-29 take exit 47 toward I-29 N. Keep left at the fork, follow signs for St.Joseph. Turn left at Frederick Ave. Destination will be on the left and there is ample parking. The entrance will be underneath the skybridge on the Northern side. There are several levels of the museum but is fairly handicap friendly. There is also usually a groupon sale going on that's $7 for two people.