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Exhibit Finds Permanent Home at Museum of disABILITY History: The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic

Exhibit inspires dialogue about the treatment of those with mental illness

When Willard Psychiatric Center in New York’s Finger Lakes closed in 1995, workers discovered hundreds of suitcases in the attic of an abandoned building. Since their discovery, an incredible exhibit was created that showcases the moving stories behind these suitcases. “The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic” exhibit has found a home at the Museum of disABILITY History, a project of People Inc. A grand opening, which will include the unveiling of a suitcase, will be held on Saturday, October 20, at 11 a.m., at the Museum of disABILITY History, 3826 Main Street, Buffalo, NY. 

One of the suitcase and its contents, once belonging to a man named Mr. Lawrence Mocha, will be displayed as part of the exhibit, thanks to support from his family and the New York State Museum. During the grand opening event, Max Donatelli of the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition will speak about the stigma surrounding mental health. Attendees are encouraged to join the conversation with a question and answer session.

“The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic” was curated by Darby Penney and Peter Stastny for the Community Consortium. Copies of their compelling book, by the same name, will be available for purchase. The goal of the exhibit is to bring the stories of the suitcase owners and a patient-centered view of the history of psychiatry to a wider audience. For almost ten years, the exhibit traveled the country from coast to coast, hosted by 30 venues in 11 different states and seen by thousands of people.

The event is a fundraiser for the Museum of disABILITY History. Admission is: Adults $10, Seniors (60+) $6, students and human service employees with identification $6, children under 6 free and members of the Museum of disABILITY History are free. For more information or to register, contact David Mack-Hardiman at dmack@people-inc.org or call 716-629-3606. Refreshments provided. Reservations for the event are required.

“The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic” exhibit was created by The Community Consortium, an organization that works to promote the full citizenship and civil rights of people with psychiatric disabilities.

Established in 1998, the Museum of disABILITY History, a project of People Inc., is the only one of its kind in the United States and is dedicated to advancing the understanding, acceptance and independence of people with disabilities. Located in Buffalo, NY, the Museum’s exhibits, collections, publications, archives and educational programs create awareness and a platform for dialogue and discovery.

 

1219 North Forest Road | P.O. Box 9033 | Williamsville, New York 14231
Phone: 716.817.7400 | Toll Free NY 1.888.7PEOPLE | Fax: 716.634.3889

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