At the National Building Museum, both shifting theories on the care of the mentally ill as well as the reconfiguration of a mixed-use urban development will be showcased in a brand new exhibition, set to debut on March 25.
The exhibition, “Architecture of an Asylum: St. Elizabeths, 1852-2017,” will uncover the history behind Washington, D.C.’s vacant, former asylum, St. Elizabeth’s, through literature, photography, and artifacts. Notable highlights of the exhibition include an electroshock machine and a section that introduces the hospital’s more well-known patients, such as Ezra Pound.
When St. Elizabeth’s was first established by Congress in 1855 as the Government Hospital for the Insane, the hospital was considered a pioneering psychiatric facility. Here, social reformers like Dorothea Dix supported the moral treatment of patients through specialized architecture and landscape.
Currently, the plan for the West Campus is to construct a new U.S. Coast Guard headquarters and a Department of Homeland Security headquarters. A sports and entertainment complex and other residential and community structures are also planned for the East Campus.
The National Building Museum’s exhibition will be open through January 15, 2018.
• National Building Museum to present Architecture of an Asylum [National Building Museum]