Extraordinary! Unknown works from Swiss Psychiatric Institutions around 1900

October 11, 2018 to January 20, 2019

Artistic works of psychiatric patients are increasingly attracting public interest but so far little research has been done. From 2006 to 2014 in Switzerland, a unique project at the Zurich University of the Arts, supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, inventoried the collections an drawings in medical records around 1900 of all the cantonal mental hospitals. This traveling exhibition shows a selection of these newly discovered works and gives an insight into unusual works of art.

Patients created their oeuvre with dedication as well as with great technical and artistic skills. They considered them as contributions to public life, as inventions or as expressions of their thoughts, as criticism of the institution or as an enrichment in their monotonous everyday life. Their art is characterized by negotiations about what was considered "not normal" and their exclusion from public life.

The exhibition will be on display in the Kunstmuseum Thun from February 9 to May 19, 2019 and in the LENTOS Kunstmuseum in Linz from June 8 to August 18, 2019. A catalog will be issued in german and english.



Lina Cécile Colliot Schafter (1867-1937), Object, crocheted cotton thread, paper described in pencil, 14 x 6.5 x 6 cm, undated, © Stiftung Psychiatrie-Museum Bern

Heinrich L. (1879-?), Exercise book with 18 pages, oil on paper, double page 18.5 x 47 cm, undated, © StASH DJ 39/5427

Constance Schwartzlin-Berberat (1845-1911), "Cahier de cuisine de la Valdau. Date [é] le 23 janvier », Book III, 36 pages, ink on solid paper, sewn together with a thread, 37 x 23 cm, undated (c. 1885-1904), © Stiftung Psychiatrie-Museum Bern