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Oregon State Hospital - Museum of Mental Health
Ranked #15 of 82 things to do in Salem
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Located in the historic Kirkbride building built in 1883, the Oregon State Hospital is the oldest working psychiatric facility on the west coast. The OSH Museum is a non-profit, volunteer-run business that provides a fascinating look into the past practices and history of mental health in Oregon. As a self-guided tour, you will be able to explore 2500 Square Feet of exhibits at your own pace and engage in interactive displays. The museum is open: Tuesdays 12pm -4pm, Wednesdays 12pm-4pm, Thursdays 12pm-4pm, Fridays 12pm - 4pm and Saturdays 12pm - 4pm Admission: General: $5.00 Seniors(65+): $4.00 and Students:$4.00, children under 10 are free with an adult)
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Wheelchair access, Stairs / elevator, Activities for older children
Reviewed October 10, 2013

I dated a man who worked as an aid in the 60's, and he used to take me to work on Sunday. It was clearly a warehouse situation. A lot of the people suffered from senile dementia and Alzhimers, though they didn't have a name for it then. The usual word was "senile". There were no care facilities for memory care in the 60's, so they were sent to the state hospital, though they were not technically "mentally ill". Also, going through the museum, I was amazed at the number of children that were in the hospital, as well as the number of women. It seems if the husband were dissatisfied with his wife, he could just send her to the hospital, and say she was mentally ill.

I spent almost 2 hours there, and found it fascinating. Maybe not to everyone's taste, but I worked in a laboratory for almost 20 years, and have close relatives who are mentally ill, so probably had more interest than most of the population.

5  Thank Mary J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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47 - 51 of 53 reviews

Reviewed September 8, 2013

The mental health museum is located in the former state mental hospital, built in the 1880's. The building has some unique architecture and is in a nice setting. There are several exhibits showing treatment techniques and equipment from the past, such as electro shock therapy machines. Probably the most interesting aspect was that a retired doctor from the facility served as docent and provided some interesting information and viewpoints. Well worth a couple of hours to visit.

2  Thank DWoerner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 3, 2013

It has a record in family history. We wanted to see for ourselves the facility. Very interesting an informative with a lot a visual displays of equipment and photos. Big emphasis on the fact it was once the set for a famous movie. The route through the facility was a little confusing.

1  Thank C_and_C_Oldtimers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 21, 2013

About two weeks ago we visited the OSMH Museum with some friends. We had prepared ourselves by viewing the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoos' Nest" the night before and recently visiting the bridge in Depot Bay which is featured in the movie. Not only did the museum give us a glimpse into past treatment of special needs people in the past century but also good insight into the movie which was filmed there. The museum volunteers were very knowledgeable and helpful in giving additional insight and information. A worthwhile stop for those interested in the need for institutions such as OSMH but also the dangers of how such institutions can slot people in ways that may be inappropriate.

1  Thank John V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 27, 2013

This museum is really interesting and the staff member there was knowledgeable and friendly. The personal stories of some of the patients were really interesting - in addition to text stories, there are old fashioned phones with recorded stories that you can listen to.I loved seeing the old equipment and day to day necessities. My oldest child (9) found this interesting, my younger two did not, and my partner took them outside to the beautiful grounds for a walk while I finished looking around. The exhibit on Cuckoo's Nest was well done and informative.
Prices are low and worth it!

$4.00 General
$3.00 Seniors and Students with ID
$2.00 Youths (6-18, children under 6 are free with an adult)

4  Thank MJCat47
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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