S56: Creating a Museum of the Mind in Australia.

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By September 26, 2017 No Comments

Authors: Jenna Bateman, Vivienne Miller, Alan Rosen, Katherine Boydell, Jill Bennett

Year: 2017

Event: 2017 TheMHS Conference

Subject: Lived Experience, Recovery,Community, Culture, Society,Change, Innovation, Reform,Social Justice,Reducing Stigma and Discrimination

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers

Abstract: A Museum of the Mind is an exciting concept and one that has huge potential to be an important vehicle for people to explore and understand mental health. A Museum of the Mind can promote the importance of mental health and reduce stigma by bringing people together to explore the mind, mental health and the experience of mental illness. Further, a MoM can be an agent of social change and make use of the undeniable potential of museums as therapeutic agents. There is a gap in Australia for this kind of endeavour which can bring together perspectives on mental health from across a wide range of interest groups including people with lived experience of mental health conditions and their families and carers, neuroscientists and clinicians, artists, educationalists, sociologists, aboriginal and multicultural groups and many more. A museum can be a place of coming together and a place of hope and social inclusion which talks directly to the experience of mental illness and to what supports recovery. A Museum of the Mind can have experiential aspects (installations on ‘point of view’ and voice hearing for example), psychological and cultural perspectives, medical and scientific developments, artistic representations as well as contain historical perspectives and reference material.

The presentation will address how a Museum of the Mind can play a key role in stigma reduction, using an innovative and sustained focus to educate, inform and influence attitudinal change. Addressing the cultural authority which museums have, the presentation will explore how museums can tackle social justice issues such as trauma, difference and exclusion as they relate to the development and experience of mental health conditions.

An overview of ten Museums of the Mind established across Europe will be used to illustrate the diverse ways in which Museums of the Mind can be created, funded and maintained. Internationally, there are museums like Het Dolhuys in the Netherlands and the Museo Laboratorio della Mente in Rome that specifically seek to reduce the stigma of mental illness by inviting visitors through interactive exhibits to engage with the experience of mental illness. Other Museums of the Mind address issues that affect mental health such as trauma, abuse, drugs and nutrition and still others explore contemporary and emerging approaches and treatments to mental health conditions.

A Museum of the Mind could also play a key chronicling role; identifying, assessing, cataloguing and assisting in the preservation of artefacts and practices which catalogue the history of psychiatric care in Australia. Much of the historical record has already been lost and what remains, needs to be identified, catalogued, preserved and displayed. A Museum of the Mind could play this role.

The plan for this roundtable is as follows:
1. A short presentation based on the original abstract submitted. Presenter: Jenna Bateman
2. Current opportunities on the Callan Park site for developing a MoM along with arts-based organisations
3. A number of questions and ideas will be posed to a few interested individuals
4. Discussion and debate in the form of talking circle.
5. Ending with an invitation to come to a meeting of interested people at the end of sessions on Thursday.

Learning Objectives
Learning Objective 1: Addressing the cultural authority which museums have, the presentation will explore how museums can tackle stigma reduction, using an innovative and sustained focus to educate, inform and influence attitudinal change.

Learning Objective 2: Attendees will learn how Museums of the Mind can contribute to the questioning of both historical and current practice approaches to mental health and mental illness. They will gain insights into the value of museums in presenting ideas and posing issues that arise as the various frames through which mental illness is understood are presented.

Silverman, L. H., 2002, ‘The therapeutic potential of museums’ in Sandell, R, Museums, Society, Inequality, Routledge
Besley, J, 2009, Making Peace with the Past?, Churchill Fellowship Report to examine the role of museums in assisting communities to recover from traumatic events and experiences, The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust of Australia

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