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October 13, 2011

Drexel University Presents Asylum: Inside The Closed World Of State Mental Hospitals, A Photography Exhibition Just In Time For Halloween

This photo of St. Elizabeth's autopsy theater is one of 22 gripping images of American mental hospitals seen from a fresh angle at Drexel's New Leonard Pearlstein Gallery. (Photo by Christopher Payne courtesy Drexel)

Drexel’s latest exhibition, Asylum: Inside the Closed World of Stated Mental Hospitals, presents a collection of two dozen large-format photographs by New York-based artist Christopher Payne.

Payne’s gripping photos challenge mainstream portrayal of mental hospitals as places of nightmarish squalor and abuse.

Instead, the images document what were once monuments of civic pride, built with noble intentions by leading architects and physicians, who envisioned asylums as places of refuge, therapy and healing.

The exhibit is the culmination of a six-year project in which Payne was granted unprecedented access to a whopping 70 institutions in 30 states. Since many of these sites no longer exist, the captivating photographs serve as the sites’ final, official record.

The exhibition is free and open to the public. Hours are Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. This is one not to miss.

A few more images to pique your interest, below.

Drexel’s Asylum: Inside the Closed World of Stated Mental Hospitals
When: Now through October 29
Where: The New Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, 3215 Market Street
Cost: Free
More info: www.drexel.edu

Christopher Payne's work sheds new light on some of our country's most stigmatized institutions.
(Photo by Christopher Payne courtesy Drexel)

This exhibition, including eery images of mental hospital cemeteries, comes just in time for Halloween. (Photo by Christopher Payne courtesy Drexel)

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