Exhibiting Madness in Museums
Remembering Psychiatry Through Collection and Display
Edited by Catharine Coleborne, Dolly MacKinnon
Routledge – 2011 – 218 pages
While much has been written on the history of psychiatry, remarkably little has been written about psychiatric collections or curating. Exhibiting Madness in Museums offers a comparative history of independent and institutional collections of psychiatric objects in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom. Leading scholars in the field investigate collectors, collections, their display, and the reactions to exhibitions of the history of insanity. Linked to the study of medical museums this work broadens the study of the history of psychiatry by investigating the significance and importance of the role of twentieth-century psychiatric communities in the preservation, interpretation and representation of the history of mental health through the practice of collecting. In remembering the asylum and its different communities in the twentieth century, individuals who lived and worked inside an institution have struggled to preserve the physical character of their world. This collection of essays considers the way that collections of objects from the former psychiatric institution have played a role in constructions of its history. It historicises the very act of collecting, and also examines ethical problems and practices which arise from these activities for curators and exhibitions.
Part I: Ways of Seeing and Remembering Psychiatry in the Museum 1. Seeing and Not Seeing Psychiatry. Dolly MacKinnon and Catharine Coleborne 2. Collecting Psychiatry’s Past: Collectors and Their Collections of Psychiatric Objects in Western Histories. Catharine Coleborne 3. Pictures of People, Pictures of Places: Photography and The Asylum. Barbara Brookes 4. The Ethics of Exhibiting Psychiatric Materials. Nurin Veis Part II: Material Culture and Memories of Madness 5. ‘Always Distinguishable From Outsiders’: Materialising Cultures of Clothing from Psychiatric Institutions. Bronwyn Labrum 6. Snatches of Music, Flickering Images, and the Smell of Leather: The Material Culture of Recreational Pastimes in Psychiatric Collections in Scotland and Australia. Dolly MacKinnon 7. ‘A Grave Injustice’: The Mental Hospital and Shifting Sites Of Memory. Nathan Flis and David Wright 8. Remembering Goodna: Stories from a Queensland Mental Hospital. Joanna Besley and Mark Finnane Part III: Bodies and Fragments 9. In the Interests of Science: Gathering Corpses from Lunatic Asylums. Helen MacDonald 10. The Anatomy Museum and Mental Illness: The Centrality of Informed Consent. D. Gareth Jones 11. The Material and Visual Culture of Patients in a Contemporary Psychiatric Secure Unit. Fiona R. Parrott
Catharine Coleborne is Associate Professor in History in the History Programme, School of Social Sciences at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. Her research interests include histories of families and institutions, mental health and oral histories, colonial psychiatry, ethnicity and gender. Her most recent book is Madness in the Family (2010).
Dolly MacKinnon is a Senior Lecturer in the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, at The University of Queensland. A cultural historian whose publications span early modern history and the histories of psychiatry, Dolly has also co-edited Madness in Australia: Histories, Heritage and the Asylum (2003) with Catharine Coleborne.