Glore Psychiatric Museum

Step into my office, will you?

As a pseudo-student of psychology, I naturally had to make time for the GLORE PSYCHIATRIC MUSEUM- 3406 Frederick Ave., St. Joseph, IA.


The Glore museum is part of the St. Joseph museums, and at $6/adult, you get access to all of them, which include the ones listed in the photo below.

All for the price of one!

Though all of the museums are interesting, the Glore Psychiatric Museum is the largest; the other museums are a hallway with a few exhibit rooms while the GPM is four floors.

Objects found in the stomach of a woman suffering from pica.

Fun fact: The name for “Pica” (a disorder in which a person is compelled to eat non-nutritive items) comes from the Latin word for “magpie,” a bird that is known to eat almost anything.

Large parts of the museum were created by Dr. George Glore and patients in his care. They helped him create a museum for the purpose of helping people understand psychiatric patients and the history of treatment.

An early psychiatric device involving the patient being strapped into the box and spun a lot. I guess it was worth a shot…

The biggest thing that I took away from the museum is another outlook on past psychiatric practices. We have all heard the horror stories of electroshock therapy, lobotomies, water dousing, etc. and immediately envision Nurse Ratchett laughing maniacally as she hammers an ice pick into someone’s head. What we have to remember is psychiatry is STILL a soft science with many still unknown and unpredictable variables. Earlier doctors knew even less than we do today, they were trying ANYTHING to help these patients and society. Granted, today the very idea of disconnecting nerves in someone’s brain by means of an ice pick and a hammer sounds insane, but the standards were very different back then. They may have been ignorant in so many ways on the science and damage-inducing treatment, but the stereotypical image of cruel doctors and sadistic nurses was not the widespread case. This is helpful to remember when going through the sections about life as a staff member in an asylum, especially when you come to the room about the nurses’ strict regulations (such as wearing makeup resulted in them questioning the nurse’s motives and job termination and more).


Amongst the fascinating exhibits, one highlight is the art therapy, where they explain how music therapy showed impressive results; they also displayed art made by patients in Missouri asylums.


The main museum took me about an hour and a half to go through, and another 45 minutes to go through the others.

Love the pill bottle art and the quote from the late and amazing Robin Williams.

Go. Expand your mind. Remove any stigmas you may have against mental disorders or those seeking (and often blundering in) treatment. Then take a cruise through the other exhibits, since you have the chance.

Until next time, dahlings…

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