St. Peter State Hospital Museum
100 Freeman Dr, St Peter, MN 56082, USA
| +1 507-985-2000
Photo courtesy of St. Peter State Hospital Museum
St. Peter State Hospital MuseumMinnesota’s first state hospital, St. Peter’s opened in 1866 to serve the mentally ill and dangerous. While it started with space for just 50 patients, it served almost 3,000 at its peak in 1957, housing everyone on a campus ringed with barbed wire. Straitjackets and electroshock therapies were regularly employed, though patients could also grow crops, dance, and attend social events. In the 1960s, deinstitutionalization initiatives changed the hospital’s role from an asylum to a treatment center, which it remains to this day.
In an effort to dispel rumors and bring transparency to its 150 years of work, the hospital runs a museum that guests can tour by appointment. After a short introduction about the institution’s history, visitors can take in various exhibitions, which cover everything from the duties of the nurses and doctors to the care and daily routine of the patients. You’ll also be able to see vintage objects used by doctors or created by patients, as well as photographs of nursing staff and records of salaries. If you’re into weird medical history, you won’t want to miss it.