Exhibits provide past and present-day look at mental illness

Historic artifacts and current patient artwork from the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter are featured in two unique public showings

Two upcoming exhibits provide a look back at 150 years of care and treatment at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter and offer a glimpse into the creative and artistic minds of women and men who are currently patients at the facility.

A History of Minnesota’s First State Hospital, which runs May 12 through Dec. 15 at the Treaty Site History Center in St. Peter, features relics and photos from key periods in the hospital’s history, as well as storyboards, video and more.

Selected from the hospital’s own extensive collection, the artifacts help tell the stories of patients, staff and how the treatment of mental illness has evolved in the 150 years since the facility was established.

“Its name and buildings have changed many times over the decades, but public curiosity about the Security Hospital has been constant,” said executive director Carol Olson.

“This is a rare opportunity to view artifacts not often seen by the general public and to experience the facility’s captivating history up-close.”

A separate exhibition, Changing Minds II: Work by Patients at the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center, will be on display May 4-27 at the Arts Center of St. Peter, 315 South Minnesota Ave.

The show includes more than 150 original works of visual and literary art created over the past two years by artists working independently and those who participated in year-round art and writing classes facilitated by Arts Center staff.

“For many patients, art is an important part of their therapy,” Olson said.

“It helps them express themselves, learn about themselves and to recognize and take pride in their talents and skills.”

The Therapeutics, a band made up of patients, will perform during a reception on Friday, May 4, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Arts Center of St. Peter. The event is open to the public.

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