I recently had the opportunity to tour a portion of the Oregon State Hospital that is undergoing renovation, officially called the Oregon State Hospital Replacement Project. I had been talking with a friend and former neighbor, Hazel Patton, and learned that Hazel is one of the key organizers of a mental health museum that will be housed in the Kirkbride U Building at the State Hospital. When Hazel learned how much I am interested in medical and mental health history, she invited me on a tour of the building. She also invited me to become a member of a museum committee. Given my past experience with putting together a museum (Canby Grove Conference Center, oh so many years ago), my interest in the Oregon State Hospital, and my creativity, I was placed on the Exhibits/History/Stories committee.
The tour. I put on the required orange vest and hard hat and entered the building.
As I entered, I felt tears welling up in my eyes. I have wanted to go inside the State Hospital for a very long time - this was a dream come true. The tears? Maybe in part because my grandmother had been involuntarily committed in the 1960s and I remember visiting her. Maybe in part because I loved the Jack Nicholson movie, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. But mostly, I am fascinated with medical and mental health history.
Here's the space that will house the new Mental Health Museum:
After the tour, it was mentioned that we should be taken to the Gold Room. The Gold Room? Oh yes. The Gold Room is one of several major storage areas of hospital artifacts. If I thought my heart was twitterpated with going into the building, you should have felt what it did as I entered the Gold Room!
To learn more about the OSH mental health museum, click here for a link to the museum blog.