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01 Sep 2010

Museum Prinzhorn Collection: Forget-me-not - insights into asylum life around 1900

3. Lukas
Dr. F. Tränenausbruch, undated
pensil, feather in black ink on paper, 20.8 x 15.6 cm
© Sammlung Prinzhorn, Heidelberg

Insights into asylum life around 1900
Museum Prinzhorn Collection


8. July until 31. Oktober 2010 Opening Hours:
Tues-Sun 11am - 5 pm; Wed 11am - 8pm Guided tours in German: Wed 6pm, Sun 2pm

Ingrid Traschütz

Museum Prinzhorn Collection
Voßstr. 2
69115 Heidelberg

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„Dr. Printzhorn, so it looks in me': The Prinzhorn Collection presents for the first time on a large scale selfreports from its historical fund which reflect the everyday life in psychiatric institutions.

More than 120 exhibits, with it paintings, drawings, collages, textile works and letters, offer a touching insight into the life of the internees and at the same time a wide cross section of the collection. There are shown works by about 60 men and women from about 30 different institutions in the period from 1897 to 1924.

The historical Prinzhorn Collection, which contains more than 5000 works from the period between 1850 and 1930, includes around 500 pictures, letters, notes, and books that depict the conditions inside the institutions from the perspective of those housed in them. A selection of 120 of these works is on view here. They lead the visitor from the outer to the inner world of their creators.

The lower exhibition space is dedicated to the inmates in the asylum and their architecture. The patient-artists observed and drew their doctors, guards, and fellow patients, as well as themselves. The institution in which they had to live is transformed into a backdrop and metaphor in these pictures. Cell and garden are presented as contrasting sites of their existence.

The gallery of the exhibition space shows the multiple inner worlds of the patient artists. They developed complex fantasies about their illnesses, described physical sensations, and recorded their monologues. Poetry and fantasy allowed for an escape from the everyday life of the institution. Maintaining hope and a faith in love comforted them, and with humor and irony the inmates were able to resist the authorities subordinating them. They used letters, demands, complaints, and requests to take up contact with the institution and its inmates.

Visibly or invisibly, a single desire is inscribed in all these documents: