About this Project

The concept of "normality" varies with time and across cultures. We asked our visitors to explore their own views of this complex and dynamic idea in light of patient artifacts found in a decommissioned psychiatric institution. We encourage Exploratorium visitors to comment on issues of mental health and treatment as part of the exhibition. Here's some of what they had to say.

Some of the visitor comments are sensitive in nature. Please be aware that for some people, topics discussed can be challenging.

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About the Exhibition

The Changing Face of What Is Normal: Mental Health is a temporary exhibition on view at the Exploratorium in San Francisco from April 17, 2013, to Spring 2014

The Patients at Willard Psychiatric Center brought many things with them. If you were in their position and didn’t know how long you’d be gone, what would you take? The Patients at Willard Psychiatric Center brought many things with them. If you were in their position and didn’t know how long you’d be gone, what would you take?
What would you do if someone you cared about began to act strangely–haring unseen voices for example, or claiming that others could read their minds? What would you do if someone you cared about began to act strangely–haring unseen voices for example, or claiming that others could read their minds?
The Patients at Willard Psychiatric Center brought many things with them. If you were in their position and didn’t know how long you’d be gone, what would you take? The Patients at Willard Psychiatric Center brought many things with them. If you were in their position and didn’t know how long you’d be gone, what would you take?
What would you do if someone you cared about began to act strangely–haring unseen voices for example, or claiming that others could read their minds? What would you do if someone you cared about began to act strangely–haring unseen voices for example, or claiming that others could read their minds?