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“Extremely Well Done, and Very Disturbing”

Museum Dr. Guislain
Ranked #8 of 182 things to do in Ghent
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed 18 June 2014

We visited in June 2014, and they had a display of war represented in art by mentally ill artists. The guide describes the work as well as the artist's pathology, which is a surprisingly interesting way to view a work. Much of the art is really exceptional, and some of it is incredibly disturbing - an exhibit to burn into your brain that war is, indeed, hell.

Only slightly less disturbing is the history of psychiatry represented in the standing collection. Though it understandably skews toward the contributions of Dr. Guislain and his contemporaries, it is a fairly well-presented history of the discipline, though sometimes it seems more like a litany of atrocities. If you yourself have some mental illness or care for somebody who does, you would be hard-pressed not to be heartbroken by the historical treatment of these challenges.

We only had an hour and a half in the museum, which was a mistake on our part. You should leave yourself more time than that.

This is well off the beaten path in Ghent, but well worth the trip. The walk from city center is a little more than a mile and takes you through some parts of Ghent heavily populated with immigrants, particularly Turkish immigrants, which is a totally different view of the city.

3  Thank TMFHitman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"mental illness"
in 13 reviews
"psychiatric hospital"
in 14 reviews
"outsider art"
in 13 reviews
"permanent collection"
in 10 reviews
"tram ride"
in 5 reviews
"number tram"
in 4 reviews
"stops directly"
in 2 reviews
"subject matter"
in 2 reviews
"ancient times"
in 2 reviews
"worth the detour"
in 2 reviews
"great art"
in 2 reviews
"beautiful building"
in 4 reviews
"on display"
in 5 reviews
"interesting place"
in 2 reviews
"interesting exhibits"
in 2 reviews
"couple of hours"
in 2 reviews
in 17 reviews

74 - 78 of 245 reviews

Reviewed 29 May 2014

WOW, we had no idea all the documentation that was available to be seen here.
Pictures, descriptions, exhibits of how test were run and how "help" for the mentally ill were administered. What has been learned. Is is hereditary? In DNA? By association?
Mental illness from birth, death, war, social affiliation.
Dr Guislain, was far advanced in his thinking , theories and medical care for mentally ill people and how to treat them.
So many different things to read, see, drawings, writings and take in.
There is a school attached to this museum and doctors offices as well.
Interesting grounds and location.

Thank jeffreyshapiro
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 April 2014

This museum is intent on shocking its visitors - and does a pretty good job. It is a museum that seems to have several purposes -- to tell the history of the treatment of mental illnesses, to describe the history of the good works of the brothers of charity (a religious order that is linked to the establishment of the institution that houses this museum and is organized around service and care for the mentally ill, among others), and just to "weird out" visitors.

There are pretty expansive permanent exhibitions focused on the first two of those goals. There is also an exhibition (I got fuzzy on whether it was permanent or temporary) on "outsider art" --- which was a creepy and impactful set of exhibits that get you to see the plights of various outsiders more vividly.

When I visited there was also a temporary exhibition on war and trauma. This exhibition was moving and gory, and pretty upsetting on numerous levels. Among the less obvious, was the completely jarring sensation that nothing changes - that we have over decades and centuries been seeing such similar phenomena (of violence and aggression), reacting to it in such similar ways (shell shock, post traumatic stress, being two relatively modern names), and then reacting to the reaction in such similar ways. This exhibition looked at aggression, violence, and trauma through many lenses and with many media (performance art, interviews, photographs, sculpture, painting, music). It was chilling and thought provoking.

I thought this was going to be a small, quirky museum with a few instruments on display. Instead, I spent hours there and think I could go back several times and find more I did not see.

Dr. Guislain's museum of the history of psychiatry is indeed unique. I highly recommend that you visit it when it Ghent.

I enjoyed the 25 minute or so walk from the St. Michael's Bridge area to this museum. However, there is a tram that stops directly in front of the museum.

Thank prof_voyager
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 April 2014

I didn't care much for the art. Some of it was cool, and the subject, death and mental illnesses, was original and unsettling, which I liked, but, the main attraction, is the building itself.

You could tell that it used to be a psychiatric hospital just by it's entrance. Ominous is the word. And once inside, this feeling gets even stronger.

Great place to let you imagination wander about what might have happened inside those walls.

Thank Baalinooo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 28 February 2014

On the edge of the town (take a tram) this 19th-century asylum offers something different for visitors who enjoy the offbeat - in this case several fascinating rooms on the history of psychiatry, a collection of 'Art Brut' &, till the end of June, an exhibition titled Soldiers & Psychiatrists 1914-2014. Be warned: not all the exhibits are pretty, but they are serious and thoughtful testimony to the cost of war on the human mind & nervous system. By way of light relief, see Tim Brown's cheeky 'naïve' paintings in the Art Brut section. A change from the must-see museums & their costly gift shops.

1  Thank elbasilio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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