Living Museum Society

Living Museums: Art Asylums for people with mental illness: Fourth revolution in psychiatry
First came Pinel, taking off the chains of the mentally ill in France or Dr. Guislain in Belgium. Talk therapy by Freud or Jung opened up the world for the mentally ill. Then, medication enabled hospitals to downsize and give more freedom to the patients. The fourth revolution targeted the change in identity: from a patient to an artist in an art asylum that provides social warmth.
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Recovery and Social Change in the Living Museum Community
There is no secret that the two paradigms, that of individual therapy a la Freud and others and the system of semi-incarceration don’t serve the healing process. New concepts have to arise. To create the new let’s learn from the old. Many aspects of the asylums and the ideas around the moral treatment at the turn of the century should be revisited. Art can play a major role. Simply stated, modern art and mental illness almost completely overlap. Extreme creativity is a symptom of mental illness. Let’s rely on art and creativity in the treatment with people with mental illness.
Spread out the Living Museum philosophy (Bild: Marco Gorghini)
The vision of the project is that mentally ill people will be united. This process has already begun to grow. “The goal of the project is first and foremost an artistic one: the creation of a gigantic visionary space in a continuous process of mutation, where murals, installations, sculptures, paintings and poems are born reflecting the world of outsiders“.
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Mushrooming of Art Asylums all over the World
Let’s assume that art asylums mushroom all over the world, creating utopian spots where the outside world comes to enjoy cultural events. The visitors integrate with the mentally ill.
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Identity change- from a person with mental illness to an artist.
Mental illness can be seen as the motor for creativity. Many people with mental illness have access to the universe, where the angels fly. The so called normal artists have to work hard to get to that level of creativity. Many try to cheat with drugs and alcohol. A change of identity of a traumatized person to that of an artist is the most important objective of the Living Museum. This identity constitutes itself out of the many different roles that make up our life. The new identity is a new role for the participants, which is accepted and valued in society. Through this change of identity, empowerment and recovery will take place.
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Art is therapy. Art is a guarantee of sanity. The change of identity from being one who is mentally ill to being an artist is an important aspect of healing. Art making leads to the reduction of stress and anxiety.And in many cases even to catharsis. Hope arises from the process.
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We are celebrating individual differences. We are celebrating those aspects of your vulnerability that make you a miserable person outside in the world as your strength and we change your identity to that of an artist. And we celebrate the fact that you had experiences other people did not have. So in this way: Art is the solution, art is the way to go.
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Dr. Janos Marton, founder and director of the Living Museum New York
With his grandious visions and his generosity he transformed the lifes of many Living Museum artists, volunteers, worker and students. His ability to give trust in everybodys strengths let individuals grow and blossom. He was responsible for the development of the Living Museum philosophy which transformed into the fourth big revolution in psychiatry. He won one of the biggest Antistigma awards, the Dr. Guislain Award in Ghent, Belgium in 2015.
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The Living Museum is a


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The Living Museum is a movement dedicated to the dissemination of art-asylums for mentally ill people, modelled on the first Living Museum in Queens, New York. Authentic art is created and exhibited at the same time. It is dedicated to the beauty of art and healing. The aim is to change identity from the mentally ill to the artist in an atmosphere of community, solidarity and creativity. This movement is supported by the Living Museum Society Switzerland.

The first
Living Museum



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The Living Museum was founded in 1983 by Janos Marton, a Hungarian artist and psychologist, and Bolek Greczynski, an artist from Poland. They were influenced by the European art breeding scene, e.g. the Prinzhorn Collection in Heidelberg and the House of Artists in Gugging in Klosterneuburg near Vienna.

As a building for the Living Museum, Marton and Greczynski were provided with an abandoned
restoration building by the clinic management of the Creedmoor Psychiatric
Center in Queens, New York, on the extensive hospital grounds.

It formerly housed a huge kitchen and 20 dining rooms for 1000 patients. They renovated it
and gradually filled it with life and art.


The Living Museum as a

artistic concept

The Living Museum Concept is perceived as the fourth great revolution in the history of psychiatry from the end of the 18th century – after the liberation of the mentally ill from chains by Philippe Pinel, the introduction of psychotropic drugs and psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freund and C.G. Jung.

The Living Museum as an artistic concept is based on a performance in which everything is changing and in perpetual transformation. Both the members and the artworks are growing. Individual characteristics that make you an outsider in society are celebrated in the Living Museum and offer an advantage in the creation of art. The high artistic potential of people who have had extreme psychological experiences is appreciated and shown to the public in exhibitions. The Living Museum reverses the prevailing idea of integration: not the mentally ill should reintegrate themselves into society, but society should integrate itself into the Living Museum and be healed from there. The Living Museum concept offers ways of healing, a high quality of life, is cost-efficient and requires few care personnel.

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know how sharing, and other project expenses.

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Dear visitor. In the next few days we will launch our new website. During the test phase only a part of the contents and functions will be available. We appreciate your understanding.

We are looking forward to presenting you the new website in full in the next few days and are looking forward to your visit (and your feedback).

With kind regards


Living Museum community


Lieber Besucher. In den nächsten Tagen schalten wir unsere neue Website auf. In der Testphase wird nur ein Teil der Inhalte und Funktionen zur Verfügung stehen. Wir bitten Sie um Ihr Verständnis.

Wir freuen uns ihnen die neue Website in den nächsten Tagen in vollem Umfang zu präsentieren und freuen uns auf ihren Besuch (und ihr Feedback).

Mit herzlichen Grüssen