Crazy about Glore

The Lunatic Box
The patient had to remain standing until he or she became calm.  This may have taken days…

Glore Psychiatric Museum

3408 Frederick Avenue
St. Joseph, Missouri

(You know I had to say that…)  
Not far from home is a well-kept secret of oddity.  Originated by George Glore, a lifetime employee of the MO mental health system, Glore Psychiatric Museum specializes in an unusual collection of dioramas of the history of treatment for mental illness…witch burnings to devil stompings, the Bath of Surprise to a giant human version of a gerbil wheel, and your usual suspects of electro shock therapy, lobotomies, blood letting and leeches.  The campy use of department store-donated mannequins makes the museum even more surreal.  The signage throughout the museum expresses incredulity at such practices.

Fever Cabinet
Used to elevate the patient’s body temperature and kill the virus.  Before this procedure came into practice, Malaria therapy was used, inducing the disease to bring about high fever.  “On occasion, the patient died from malaria”

The Bath of Surprise

One of the more amazing/disturbing displays features the artfully arranged 1,446 items swallowed by a female patient. (She died during surgery to remove the 453 nails, 42 screws, 9 bolts, 105 safety pins, 63 buttons, 52 carpet tacks, various beads, stones, bent teaspoon handles, and earrings.)

Embroidered story created by a patient.

There is also a collection of art created in the craft ward. An wonderful example of Art Brut, French artist, Jean Dubuffet’s original term for people working outside the influences of established art boundaries.  Art that is produced by untrained artists who are unaware of its classic definition, such as those cut off from mainstream society.

In 1971, a patient was observed stuffing paper into a slot in the back of a television set on the ward.  An electrician was called in to open the back of the set to remove the piece of paper.  There were 525 letters and scraps of paper found in the TV, some charred from the heat.  It is not known if the patient was collecting and disposing of the papers, or if he was delusional, and though he was mailing them.

The display of 108,000 cigarette packs, collected by a patient for over 2 years, who believed that the packages would be redeemed for a new wheelchair for the hospital.  It was learned from major tobacco companies that no such prize was offered.  In November 1969, the hospital administration presented a wheelchair to the unit which the patient lived as a token of their appreciation of the tremendous effort.