New exhibition – “Forget me not”. Insights into asylum life around 1900

“Dr. Printzhorn, this is how it looks inside me”: For the first time the Prinzhorn Collection presents a major exhibition of testimonies from its historical collection, which reflect everyday life in psychiatric institutions.More than 120 exhibits, including paintings, drawings, collages, textile works and letters, offer a touching insight into the life of patients and at the same time present a wide cross section of the collection. Works by about 60 men and women are shown, from about 30 different institutions in the period from 1895 to 1925. We show not only famous “classics”, but also many pieces which have never been exhibited before. Madhouses, sick people’s cells, dormitories and dining rooms are documented, fellow patients and nursing staff are portrayed; an “order” is created for the “madhouse”. “May I have a piece of cake?” blossoms in dark violet; wanderlust is condensed into poetry: “Do you know the country of Orplid?” Irony and mockery are also coping strategies in “Narrenschindenau” (“Mistreat-Fool-Town”); evidenced by many caricatures, such as “Dr. Tränenausbruch” (“Dr. Burst-Into-Tears”). Nevertheless, the psychiatrist remains a “doctor and master”, as he is called in the countless letters – sincerely begging, or menacingly demanding – addressed to him asking for release after years, even decades of internment. The heartfelt, ever recurring wish not to fall into oblivion is the red thread running through the exhibition: “Vergissmeinnicht”, “Forget-me-not”; embroidered on a handkerchief, formulated as a poem, written in letters or painted as a bouquet.

For more information, click here.

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