Maureen Park. Art in Madness: Dr W. A. F. Browne’s Collection of Patient Art at Crichton Royal Institution, Dumfries. Dumfries, Scotland: Dumfries & Galloway Health Board, 2010 (£25).
This book looks at a unique collection of art in Scotland. In the mid-nineteenth century Dr W. A. F. Browne (1805-1885), the first medical superintendent of Crichton Royal Institution in Dumfries, introduced moral management and treatment at the asylum. He encouraged his patients to become involved in a wide range of cultural education activities – education classes, the creation of an asylum library and museum for the use of patients, the publication of their own periodical, musical and theatrical events, visits beyond the asylum walls for social events, and the production of drawings and paintings. So committed was Browne to moral treatment that he preserved samples of his patients’ work and today it is the oldest surviving collection of art by a group of asylum patients in the world. This book places the collection in the context of early psychiatry, examines the patients who became involved in art and provides the first complete catalogue of the 134 works in the collection. The book is fully illustrated.
Dr Maureen Park is a Lecturer in History of Art at the University of Glasgow. A former curator at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and at Haggs Castle Museum, Glasgow, she lectures and publishes widely on the links between art, medicine and healthcare. Art in Madness is the result of research undertaken for her PhD thesis on the Crichton Art Collection.