Willard Asylum for the Insane – Suitcases

In 2011, I was lucky enough to take a public tour of the former Willard Asylum for the Insane in Seneca County, New York.  During that tour, I took a lot of photographs of both the interior and exterior of many of the buildings.  I later shared some of those pictures and my thoughts about the tour here on my blog.

Grandview Building – Willard, NY (2011)

Grandview

I never expected that my Willard post would create such a following.  It has been my number one post for two years running.    As a result of that post, I have received numerous emails from people looking for information on the former institution, suitcases, and the cemetery.  Many emails have come from people searching for information on family members who they believe were once patients there. I have personally responded to all of those inquiries, and hopefully have steered everyone in the right direction.

Recently, I found some information related to the Willard suitcases that I am eager to pass along.

Photographer Jon Crispin has been photographing the suitcases of former Willard patients that were found in an attic at Willard prior to it’s closing in 1995. The suitcases have been in the custody of the New York State Museum since they were located.

Crispin’s exhibit “The Changing Face of What is Normal” is slated to open on April 17th, 2013, at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, California. 

These photographs are very thought provoking,  This exhibit (in my opinion)  humanizes the patients who resided at Willard and is a great memorialization to them.  And when you consider some of the mundane reasons that people were institutionalized in the late 19th, and early part of the 20th century, the title of Crispin’s  exhibit couldn’t have been better named.

To read more about Jon Crispin’s photo project, follow the links below.

Slate Magazine (Article)

The Telegraph (Slide show)

The Telegraph (Article)

NPR Radio (Interview on Talk of the Nation)

The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things (Article)

 

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