The original ‘State Lunatic Asylum No. 2’ opened in November of 1874 with 25 patients on land located east of the City of St. Joseph. Dr. George C. Catlett, the hospital’s first Superintendent, explained that the hospital was dedicated “to the noble work of reviving hope in the human heart and dispelling the portentous clouds that penetrate the intellects of minds diseased.”
In 1968, George Glore, an employee of the St. Joseph State Hospital, helped construct a series of full-size replicas of primitive 16th, 17th, and 18th century treatment devices for a Mental Health Awareness Week open house. Those exhibits impressed the hospital officials and sparked the idea to create the Glore Psychiatric Museum. Today, George’s treatment device replicas remain an integral part of the museum’s exhibits. Read more here about the Glore Psychiatric Museum’s history.
George Glore spent most of his 41-year career with the Missouri Department of Mental Health nurturing its collections into arguably the largest and best single exhibition explaining the evolution of mental health care in the United States. His ultimate goal was to reduce the stigma associated with psychiatric treatment for patients, their families, and their communities.
George Glore retired in 1996 and Scott Clark became the curator for the museum. On August 5, 2010, family and friends gathered in the Glore Psychiatric Museum Conference Room after his memorial service to celebrate his life. During the gathering, many commented that he is owed a debt of gratitude for increasing the understanding of mental illness through the unique museum he created. The museum was his life’s work, and it brings thousands of students and other visitors to St. Joseph each year.
In 1997, a new mental hospital, the Northwest Missouri Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center was built across the street from the original hospital campus. The Glore Psychiatric Museum, which had approximately 3,300 items, was moved into a building that had been constructed in 1968 as the medical, surgical, and admitting building for the mental hospital.
Over the next eight years, the collection and exhibits expanded quickly. The National Park Service donated a little over 1600 items; the Menninger Foundation Archives in Topeka, Kansas, donated nearly 200 items shortly before they moved to Texas; the daughter of a former superintendent donated her father’s papers and other items; a St. Louis doctor donated his personal collection; and the donations have continued. Items related to mental health care have been donated from all over the United States.
The Glore Psychiatric Museum was absorbed into the St. Joseph Museums in 2004. By that year, there were over 10,000 items either on display or in storage.
Additional notes: George Glore joined the Missouri Department of Mental health in the early 1960s at Farmington State Hospital. He was originally a ‘ward staff’—what we today call a Psychiatric Aide. He transferred to Fulton State Hospital in 1965, first as an aide and later as part of the occupational therapy staff. He transferred to St. Joseph State Hospital in 1967 as an Occupational Therapist.