Museo di Storia della Psichiatria

The Lombroso Pavilion, one of the symbolic buildings of the San Lazzaro asylum complex - which also housed the painter Antonio Ligabue from March 2, 1945 to December 6, 1948 - was transformed into the Museum of the History of Psychiatry (Museo di Storia della Psichiatria), located in Reggio Emilia (Via Amendola, 2). It opened to the public on September 30, 2012.

When it was designed (in July 1891 by engineer Angelo Spallanzani and built a year later) the Lombroso pavilion was called "Casino Galloni", in honor of the first director of San Lazzaro. It served for the chronically ill quiet.
However, from the beginning, the "Casino Galloni" was surrounded by walls, probably because nearby stood the "Villino Livi", reserved for wealthy pensioners.
With the introduction of the law of 1904, which made it compulsory for asylums to have a special isolation section for "discharged criminals" and "alienated inmates", in 1910 the "Casino Galloni" was transformed into the "Lombroso Section", named after Cesare Lombroso, the famous scholar of criminal anthropology.
The building will accommodate about seventy inmates and, since 1923, will also accommodate patients sentenced to short term.
Only in 1972 and after having housed patients other than criminals, the building was finally abandoned and the surrounding wall was demolished.


The Museum's collection has an ancient history: it was established by director Carlo Livi in 1875, to show the advances, discoveries and applications that formed a title of pride for psychiatric science and its institution, and was expanded by successive directors, who preserved some of the objects of care no longer in use.
The ground floor houses a selection with the most significant objects of restraint, the instruments of the scientific laboratories and the machinery used for therapeutic purposes, up to the electroshock devices.
In the first room, you can see the general view of the San Lazzaro Neuropsychiatric Institute in Reggio Emilia.


The second room houses two chairs.
The Guicciardini chair for joint immobilization.


And the Guicciardini chair for muscular gymnastics.


The other objects are housed in the former cells of the asylum and are divided by theme. They include various items for restraint, such as straitjackets, collars, handcuffs, silencing helmets, leather gloves, and scientific research instruments.


The last cells are dedicated to overcoming the psychiatric hospital, promoting mental health, and combating stigma.


More information on the Museum's official website.

  • Photos by Jessica Casaccia ti.supmacinu|aiccasac.j#| (December 2021)

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