The collection of outsider art at the Dr Guislain Museum consists of several sub-collections. Apart from our own permanent collection there are a number of collections on long-term loan. In 2002 the collection was vastly expanded with the internationally renowned top collection of Collectie De Stadshof. The latter comprises more than 6,000 works – from naive art to art brut – by almost 400 outsider artists. There are also long-term loans and donations from, among others, Willem van Genk Foundation, Studio La Pommeraie, Monera Foundation Gemert, Guus Maris, Piet Slijkerman and Otto Prinsen.
Until the beginning of November there will be repair and renovation works on tramways 1 and 4. On Line 1 (the tram to the Dr. Guislain Museum) there is no traffic between Korenmarkt and Gravensteen. This part can only be reached on foot.
Where lies the boundary between fantasy and reality? How can we distinguish dream from delirium, illusion from wish, hallucination from discernment? How can we explore or imagine what takes place elsewhere? The exhibition covers two centuries, starting from the many questions concerning psychosis, hallucination and illusion. Not to give a classic historic account, but to elucidate five unique oeuvres from this period that balance between art, knowledge and science. J.J. Grandville, Gustav Mesmer, Gerard Heymans, Jean Perdrizet and Mathew Kneebone each created or mapped out a different universe, thus trying to grasp the ungraspable in their own way. These are worlds in which pencils walk, bicycles float, the distance between two parallel lines is variable, typewriters are in contact with the deceased and street lamps stop shining when you walk past them. Another World creates passages: from this one to the other, between the other worlds among themselves, and perhaps also from the other world back to this one.
What is the extraction of the stone of madness? How do shamans expel evil spirits? What was the effect of the ‘rotation therapy’, invented by Belgian’s first psychiatrist Joseph Guislain? What objects protect us from disease and madness? What does present-day psychiatry look like?
In the course of history people have dealt with madness through a mixture of magic and religion, coercion and care, supervision and science. The unreasonable have been punished, anointed, cared for and cured.
The history of mental health care has known a good deal of desperation, malpractices and sometimes unjustified euphoria. The mental patient confronts us with questions that are hardly answerable and problems that are anything but easy to solve. How do we deal with those who are different? How do we deal with that which is different in ourselves?
The permanent exhibition on the history of psychiatry also pays attention to madness in other cultures and to contemporary questions, problems and ideas. By presenting the terms ‘madness’ and ‘mental illness’ in their historical and cultural contexts, the Museum Dr. Guislain wants to challenge the line between ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’.