From behind his camera lens, Diego Franssens gets closer and closer to his ageing father, to the person Herman. Herman, who decided to go into lockdown long before the word meant anything to us.

“How many people lose their parents without really knowing them? Regular people from regular Flemish villages fade quickly, but this is my father. I have no desire to immortalize or glorify him, but I want proof of his existence. The same way my mother existed. My father tries to hide and I try to see him. Sometimes he wears neon but tries even harder to hide.”

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Everything is full anyway


Madness deranges, it throws us off balance, and makes us lose our footing. It leads us to the edge of normality. But where does the norm end and chaos begin? And who decides where to draw the line?

Unhinged, the new collection presentation, tells the story of fools, idiots and madmen, but also stresses the importance of mental wellbeing in an increasingly complex society. Through five themes the exhibition analyses that ‘other’ that disturbs as well as fascinates. For a long time ‘abnormal’ behaviour was locked up in impressive institutions, but today psychiatric care reaches far beyond those walls. The exhibition draws attention to the evolution and influence of power relations in psychiatry and tries to grasp the many labels that are a help as well as a hindrance. It brings the mind-body debate to the fore and shows how imagination gives perspective and makes the unspeakable visible.

Unhinged mixes unique pieces with compelling anecdotes, big theories with hidden testimonies. Objects, books and arts come and go. Rather than burying psychiatry in history, Unhinged emphasizes the acute importance of mental health today.

The Cabinets

Art is an essential part of life. It touches us, stimulates our imagination and makes us reflect about mankind and society. Because of its virtuosity and expressiveness, art can be shamelessly beautiful and evoke a sense of awe.

Contemporary museums exhibit work by professional artists. Few museums focus on collecting and exhibiting work from original talents, people who did not get the opportunity to study art or who are not part of the regular art circuit for one reason or another. They are usually artistic loners, nonconformists, who make unorthodox choices in terms of the materials and techniques they use. Their motifs are often personal. Their works are intense and unique.

The Cabinets provides a platform for ‘solitary creators’ whose work will be arranged in changing presentations: recent acquisitions are exhibited, vulnerable works are returned to the depot and new themes are addressed.

The Cabinets is a collaboration between the Collectie De Stadshof Foundation and the Dr. Guislain Museum. It presents works of some thirty different artists.

The Museum Dr. Guislain’s collection started off with a small collection of visual art created by artistically-gifted psychiatric patients and mentally challenged persons. In 2002, the collection in Ghent expanded tremendously with the internationally acclaimed collection of De Stadshof Collection Foundation, which is on long term loan. This top-of-the-bill collection – from naïve art to art brut – has more than 6,000 pieces by nearly 400 outsider artists such as A.C.M., Herman Bossert, Nek Chand, Paul Duhem, Luiz Figueiredo, Madge Gill, Siebe Wiemer Glastra, Bertus Jonkers, Pavel Leonov, Bonaria Manca, Markus Meurer, Michel Nedjar, Oswald Tschirtner, Willem van Genk, and August Walla.


Until the end of 2022 the Dr. Guislain Museum is one of the participating partners in the project MindTour (Mindful Tourism Services for Mentally Disordered People). This Erasmus + funded project aims to make tourism organisations (with a special focus on museums) more accessible to people with intellectual disabilities and/or mental vulnerability.

Duration: 01/09/2020 – 31/12/2022

Budget for the total project: 232.539 euro

Project partners:

  • Estonia: University of Tartu and Pärnu Museum
  • Latvia: University of Latvia and Zeit Hotel
  • Belgium: Thomas More Mechelen-Antwerpen and Dr. Guislain Museum

Main target groups:

  • Organisations that offer tourism services
  • Persons with intellectual disabilities and/or mental vulnerability and their families
  • The participating higher education institutions


  • Situation scan of the current regional tourism services for people with intellectual disabilities and/or mental vulnerability
  • To develop and test prototypes of tourism services
  • Implementation roadmap for the creation and upscaling of the prototypes
  • Assessment tool for the evaluation of accessibility of tourism services for people with intellectual disabilities and/or mental vulnerability
  • The results of this study will be published through various channels and methods.

Project collaborators Dr. Guislain Museum:

  • Yoon Hee Lamot: exhibitions, communication and international projects
  • Kristine Timperman: educational service and community projects

Altered States - Joachim Koester

Joachim Koester’s oeuvre can be described as a stroll through unknown territories, both geographical and mental. The exhibition Altered States brings work together that investigate these borderlands. An ‘altered state of consciousness’ refers to a temporary change in the mental state. The cause is often external, such as a drug or a ritual, but also internal, such as a psychosis or simply a daydream. Koester shares his fascination with the effect of intoxicants with shamans and hippies, but also with psychiatrists. The latter recognised the therapeutic possibilities, but they were also confronted with the destructive power. Joachim Koester’s work delves into the historic context in which drugs were grown, traded and used, and draws parallels with the contemporary situation. Big and small stories impartially reveal our relationship with intoxication.

Tussen ons

Danser brut

Body and soul. Controlled and spontaneous. Within and beyond the limits. Danser brut offers an atypical perspective of dance, body and movement. An exhibition focusing on every form of movement: from carousels to dance epidemics, from trance to hysteria, from the mental institution to the stage. Using an intriguing mix of outsider art, modern and contemporary art, medical archive documents, film fragments… Danser brut investigates different forms of expression using the body, face and hands to translate people's place in the world. 

Danser brut is organized by BOZAR, Brussels and Museum Dr. Guislain, Ghent after an original concept by LaM, The Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art.


Dr. Guislain Museum. Outsider Art: In search of European roots

The history of Art Brut or so called Outsider Art is not linear and has many pitfalls. From psychotic art over the Bildnerei der Geisteskranken and Jean Dubuffet’s Art Brut, to Harald Szeemann’s Individual Mythologies and Roger Cardinal’s conceptualization of Outsider Art. For decades, there has been an enormous interest and fascination for self-taught and non-commercial artists. Ideas on this kind of art have changed over time and minds shifted from one point to another. All terms and concepts that have been used to describe this art form have failed and are still up for discussion.

Dr. Guislain Museum. Outsider Art: In search of European roots presents internationally known artists from the renowned Belgian collection, constructed around the literature that formed the ideas on this ‘other’ art form. The exhibition confronts the public with the evolution of this European history and how it indirectly emancipated isolated artists, but at the same time still causes conflicting opinions.






In collaboration with KASK Child-Help presents a compelling image of hydrocephalus, a silent killer as big as malaria.

The great majority of children with hydrocephaly is born in developing countries where there is hardly any access to life saving surgery.

The exhibition Underexposed brings together about 80 photographs made between 2012 and 2018 in six countries by seven photography students of the Academy of Arts in Ghent (KASK). In Poland, Bolivia, Uganda, Nigeria, Kenia and Vietnam the young photographers carefully documented the lives of spina bifida and hydrocephaly patients and their caretakers. In the photos we see dedicated doctors and physiotherapists, loving parents and patients who - despite their disability - lead an independent life. There are moments of doubt and restrained embarassment, poverty is sometimes lurking around the corner, but nonetheless these photos radiate hope.


Project Z

Project Z is a celebration of the loved and unloved music of exceptional artists. Enter the hall of mirrors of the distorted note, the wild universe of expression and unfiltered sound. The unheard and the unheard of. 

KRANKLAND (Eline Adam and Thomas Werbrouck) search for old and contemporary gems outside of the mainstream, in the social-artistic field, in institutes, at specialist arts centres and record companies. They look for music made from atypical perspectives, oeuvres from musicians who undermine ‘normal’ and ‘fine’ music, artists who make us question what it is like to be an artist. 

With a thick songbook under its arm, KRANKLAND invites established musicians: who feels a connection? Who is in for a challenge? Who wants to celebrate expression?

All that has resulted in unique relationships, collaborations where being different evaporates. These four unions extraordinaires get a place and installation at the Dr. Guislain Museum.

Olivier Deprez & Adolpho Avril

Together with Adolpho Avril from the arts studio La S in Vielsalm, the engraver and drawing artist Olivier Deprez drew inspiration from Film. This 1964 silent short film by Samuel Beckett on the theme of watching and being watched is the only one the author of Waiting for Godot ever made. Olivier Deprez is inspired by found footage, often from social media or Youtube. He reinterprets them in woodcuts and transforms them into a comic strip. The installation Noise gravure shows a number of engravings from his collaboration with Adolpho Avril, as well as the film Après la mort, après la vie.

Noise gravure is a realisation in collaboration with Bibliotheca Wittockiana and with the support of CultuurCulture.

Blood Test

What will our society look like? Will it become healthier, more perfect, flawless even? Because of medical progress this no longer seems utopian. An increasing number of diseases can be treated, genes can be adjusted, everything seems controllable. So now that we have an idea of what society could be like in the future, the question remains in which society we want to live.

Wit.h and Dr. Guislain Museum brought together visual and performing artists who wonder whether we really want to know everything that science can tell us, because with more freedom comes more responsibility. And how free will we actually be when we are making these choices?

Blood Test is not merely an exhibition, but also a Walking Opera, a Gesamkunstwerk in which music, visual arts and theatre merge. It is a walk alongside letters, tombstones and through an acoustic labyrinth, where you will meet semi-characters, extinct animals and quite an extraordinary giant.

The Transylvania Archive

Did the Russian secret service for years investigate the yeti, better known as the abominable snowman? Was he found and killed? The Transylvania Archive, a project by the Russian artist duo Marta Volkova and Slava Shevelenko, starts from these questions. Using documents from the KGB archive, some yeti body parts and pieces from the artist and agent N37, they explore the malleability of history. Marta Volkova and Slava Shevelenko play with the notions of original and copy, authenticity and cynicism, art history and political reality.

The Dr. Guislain Museum also presents From the Life of the Beetles, an exhibition on the study of the Tunguska scarabeus, a new kind of bug that can transform into a euro coin.

The history of psychiatry

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’.


In a time when an abundance of mainly visual stimuli – often digital screens - determines our everyday life the individual is confronted with overwhelming sensory experiences often leading to diverging reactions ranging from restlessness to apathy. SENSES PRESENT is a temporary multimedia side exhibition of and response to the museums’ main exhibition Prikkels (Sensations) by first year students of the Interdisciplinary Art bachelors’ program of Zuyd Hogeschool Maastricht. In this exhibition the students round up two month of artistic and scientific research considering the brain and our senses. During the project the students visited the Museum Dr. Guislain and attended several art workshops and lectures concerning the topic of stimuli. Several philosophical questions about perception, the zeitgeist and our being in the world were raised. ‘Are we our senses?’ is just one of them.

We'd also like to use this opportunity to invite you to the symposium 'All Sensations', which will take place in the museum preceding the opening of the first years' exhibition. 

12:30h Start symposium 'All Sensations' 
15:30h Opening exhibition 

Museum Dr Guislain, Jozef Guislainstraat 43, 9000 Ghent, Belgium (the symposium will take place in the lecture hall of the museum)

The symposium is organized by iArts in cooperation with Museum Dr Guislain and Filosofie Oost-West.

The exhibition will be running from 17 May until 2 June 2019.


Everything that surrounds us tingles and shimmers. Digital screens light up. Neurons crackle under the cranium. Our senses are overwhelmed. Some people eagerly jump into this abundance of stimuli, others go under or try to find comfort in a low stimulus environment. Do we become restless or languid, do we suffer from digibesity or burnout? Today the extremes coexist: opposite the flâneur in the vibrant metropolis is a modern hermit, and bordering on the seclusion room is the roaring internet.

Sensations. In-between passion and pain picks up on the debate about the place of the individual in his raging or, on the contrary, desolate surroundings. Do we respond with boredom or irritation, are we highly sensitive or apathetic, do we look for peace and quiet or do we check off our bucket list? The exhibition explores the balance between the excess and shortage of impulses in a cultural-historical and artistic way, and researches how we feverishly try to quench our thirst for thrills, or frenetically rule them out. 

In collaboration with Kopergietery, Gezinsbond, Kinderrechtencommissariaat, Agentschap Jongerenwelzijn, Mediawijs

Summer Guests

Galerie Atelier Herenplaats

Crime scenes, aliens and flower turtles adorn the vibrant workspace of Galerie Atelier Herenplaats. This remarkable initiative offers artists with a mental disability or a psychiatric background a place for experiment. These artists are represented in European and American collections and exhibited internationally. The pieces that Museum Dr. Guislain has selected from the atelier’s extensive collection comes together in a universe that tempts and amazes, and sometimes unexpectedly pulls us in.

Kunsthuis Yellow Art

In 2004 the parental house of Jan Hoet became the breeding ground for artists with a psychiatric vulnerability. In this way, Kunsthuis Yellow Art claimed its place in the psychiatric history of Geel, a city famous for its century-old family care system. For Yellow Art integration is also the key word. Museum Dr. Guislain dove into the depots of this arthouse, opened an endless amount of folders, roamed around the workshop and browsed through filing cabinets. A  journey alongside spherical structures and mountainscapes, populated by enticing ladies and shiny domestic appliances.

Het Vijfde Seizoen en Beautiful Distress

On the fringes of the institution Willem Arntsz Hoeve in Utrecht there is a separate pavilion. The building houses a special initiative: Het Vijfde Seizoen (the fifth season). Each season, since 1998, the initiators of the project invite one or more known or lesser known artists to live there for 3 months and create at least one piece. A similar project started in the psychiatric institution Kings County in New York in 2014, called Beautiful Distress. This summer in Ghent the selection of pieces made during artist residencies in Utrecht and New York turns into a manifest: artists break down the age-old walls surrounding psychiatry from the inside out.
In collaboration with Esther Vossen, curator.




Terrorist attacks, nuclear threats, blinding political tensions: fear rules the world, but also our lives. What is our money still worth? How will climate change determine our future? Fear is an instinctive emotion and largely determines our actions. In response, we are seeking control as something to hold on to: lack of control makes us feel powerless. On the other hand, too much control makes us feel uneasy and suspicious. Do we want to be spied on by security cameras? Is our data safe on the internet? Fear has a strong impact on everyone: it spreads like wildfire. How do psychiatrists and psychologists deal with this fear that is omnipresent? They seek methods of treatment, from therapeutic talks to deep brain stimulation. Or are we in fact attracted by fear – when it is packaged as entertainment – and does it protect us against impending doom – as a survival mechanism?

The exhibition Anxiety wants to show the many faces of this emotion, since fear is something of all times and cultures but has always been experienced, cultivated and combatted in a different way. From ‘God-fearing’ to fear of one’s fellow man, from highly personal phobia to mass hysteria.



Emotions Go to Work

Ever since the 19th century, people have been collecting scientific data from the human body and cataloguing emotions. Today, technology is used to turn our emotions into valuable assets: emotion is becoming capital. Smart devices try to gain our trust in order to compile information. In Emotions Go to Work New Yorker Zoe Beloff explores where this evolution is taking us. Can these technological systems understand our feelings? Will emoticons determine our emotional life? As technology takes on more and more emotional characteristics, how will they change the nature of our desires?


Should someone who has committed a crime, but who is not responsible for his/her deeds, be punished? Or is psychiatric treatment more appropriate? And what if the latter is not available?

We can get an idea of the situation of a convicted criminal or a psychiatric patient. But it is not that simple when it comes to an interned person. The exhibition (Un)treated shows the daily life of interned persons, but also pays attention to the abstract judicial framework. Behind the court rulings there are people with psychological problems and/or impairments. Although internment seems to be a suitable alternative for detention, the reality is often complex and problematic.

(Un)treated. On internment, crime and punishment wishes to contribute to the debate on forensic psychiatry, and confronts the history, the compelling topicality and the jurisdiction and legislation, with personal stories of perpetrators and victims.

(Un)treated is a cooperation of Orde van Vlaamse Balies, Handelsreizigers in ideeën and Dr. Guislain Museum.

Ave Luïa

Ave Luïa dives into an extraordinary world of cardinals and nuns, chasubles and crucifixes, cathedrals and stained glass windows, and creates a universe in which well-known religious images change their shape. Far removed from ideological discussions or heated debates, the exhibition celebrates the creative approach to catholic imagery and the stories that are deeply embedded in western culture. The Mystic Lamb gets a make-over, the New Testament a surprising interpretation. Candid apostles and rebellious exegetes turn Ave Luïa into a celebration of divine pleasure.

Ave Luïa was created in La ‘S’ Grand Atelier, a creative center for artists with a mental disability in Vielsalm, which is famous for its original approach to art brut. The daring collective and thematic projects, and the many collaborations with contemporary artists, have given la ‘S’ a unique place in the art world.

Bruno Decharme/collection abcd and Antoine de Galbert purchased this extraordinary set of works together, in order to conserve it in its entirety and present them to as broad a public as possible.

Collections abcd / Bruno Decharme, Paris  & Antoine de Galbert, Paris

Another World

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.

Until 11th of June there is an exhibition on Gustav Mesmer in art et marges that is linked to the exhibition Another world. In collaboration with : Gustav Mesmer Stiftung / Museum Dr Guislain


Moses, Tarzan and Superman: we don’t give it much thought, but in popular stories the protagonist is often an adopted child with special powers. Myths, novels and comics are teeming with adopted heroes. The exhibition goes into this cultural fascination and confronts it with historical documents and contemporary questions. How does origin influence the search for an own identity? How do adoption practices evolve? Is the focus on the child, the prospective parents or society? How do procedures work and what if they are lacking? How do we deal with the traumas caused by forced adoption today?

The varied, sensitive history of adoption is illustrated with documentary material, old and modern art, literature, photography, film excerpts and testimonies. Adoption. Between adventure and misadventure explores the representation of adoption practices, focuses on personal stories and in this way enters the current debate.

Shadowlands - Roger Ballen

The exhibition on the oeuvre of Roger Ballen that was shown in the Dr. Guislain Museum in 2014, now will be shown abroad. From 16th of December 2016 until the 5th of March 2017 the exhibition Shadowlands - Roger Ballen will be presented in TEA in Tenerife.

Roger Ballen was born in New York in 1950 but for over 30 years he has
lived and worked in South Africa. His work as a geologist led him to the
countryside where he took his camera and explored the hidden world of
small South African towns. At first he explored the empty streets in the
glare of the midday sun but, once he had made the step of knocking on
people’s doors, he discovered a world inside these houses which was
to have a profound effect on his work. These interiors with their distinctive
collections of objects and the occupants within these closed worlds
took his unique vision on a path from social critique to the creation of
metaphors for the inner mind.

Over the years his distinctive style of photography has evolved using a
simple square format in stark and beautiful black and white. In the earlier
works of the exhibition, his connection to the tradition of documentary
photography is clear but through the 1990s he developed a style he
describes as ‘documentary fiction’. After the year 2000, the people he
first discovered and documented living on the margins of South African
society, increasingly became a cast of actors working with Ballen in the
series’ Outland and Shadow Chamber, collaborating to create powerful

The line between fantasy and reality in his more recent series, Boarding
House and Asylum of the Birds, has become increasingly blurred. In
these series he has employed drawings, painting, collage and sculptural
techniques to create elaborate sets. People are now often absent
altogether, replaced by photographs of people used as props, by parts of
dolls or dummies. When they do appear, they do as disembodied hands,
feet and mouths poked disturbingly through walls and pieces of rag. The
often improvised scenarios are completed with the unpredictable and
ambiguous behaviour of animals, which is crucial to the overall meaning
of the photographs.

Dirk De Wachter Museum

For one summer the Dr. Guislain Museum becomes the Dirk De Wachter Museum. In Borderline Times psychiatrist Dirk De Wachter establishes a sharp diagnosis of today’s society: we live in borderline times. Impulsiveness, affective lability, emptiness … are not only individual symptoms, but also features of a broader, collective evolution. In his diagnosis Dirk De Wachter assigns great value to literature, philosophy and art. Dirk De Wachter Museum examines the way contemporary art represents today’s society and the current time, and reveals the shortcomings and possibilities in its own language.

The book Borderline Times and its author have been receiving a great deal of attention. That says a lot about the difficulties to which the psychiatrist’s work refers, but also about his own place in society. Dirk De Wachter Museum zooms in on the phenomenon of Dirk De Wachter and sheds light on other famous psychiatrists throughout history, who have entered the public stage, adopted a critical attitude towards society and considered art as an indispensable link.

The exhibition Dirk De Wachter Museum is a collaboration between psychiatrists Dirk De Wachter and Erik Thys and the curators at the Museum Dr. Guislain.

A richly illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition (D, 144 p., Uitgeverij Lannoo).

ARPAÏS du bois

ARPAÏS du bois records, contemplates, and comments on the world around her in her daily drawings. Ranging from an intimately experienced world to global political events. She voices her fight against oblivion, against living in and dealing with the world too quickly. The drawings can be considered as variations, which – with distance and restraint – attempt to provide an answer to the weight of reality.

In trouver un moyen d’habiter le monde, ARPAÏS du bois presents a selection of her work, and brings her drawings into dialogue with objects from the Dr. Guislain Museum’s collection.

Out of the Shadows

On 30 September 2015, it will be 200 years that the mentally ill were released from the shackles in the crypt of the medieval Castle of Gerard the Devil in Ghent. Canon Triest and the Bothers of Charity were the instigators. This event can be seen as the beginning of psychiatric care in Belgium.

By means of photographs, film, testimonials, etc., Out of the shadows shows the degrading way in which mentally ill people were treated in the past, and also too often today. The exhibition looks at the differences in approaching mental illness worldwide, and shows the many forms in which chains nowadays appear and are broken.


That which we wish to keep hidden, becomes visible. That of which we do not wish to talk, becomes public. From taboo to embarrassment, from primness to awkwardness, from blushing to guilty pleasures: this exhibition sheds light on shame, a feeling which is difficult to grasp, yet omnipresent. It catches us by surprise, at the least expected moments and for the most diverse reasons: when we say something unseemly in public, or because of the smaller or larger imperfections of the body. But we also feel shame about poverty or psychological problems. Whether we want this or not, shame has an influence on everything we do.

Just like the reasons for being ashamed differ, shame also differs according to a person’s character, the times in which people live and the place they find themselves in. Shame is a personal as well as a social phenomenon: each person, but also each culture, deals with it in a different way. The exhibition Shame explores this field along different lines: by means of objects from other cultures, historical psychiatric documents or actual witnesses. Modern and contemporary artists represent this feeling in paintings, sculptures, photographs and video.

A richly illustrated catalogue accompanies this exhibition (D/F/E, 176 p., Uitgeverij Lannoo).

Chantal Akerman, Francis Alÿs, Alioune Bâ, Sarah Baker, Michael Borremans, Claude Cahun, Tom Callemin, Robert Capa, Roy de Villevoye, Jim Dine, Desiree Dolron, Marcel Duchamp, Tracey Emin, Gao Brothers, Marc Garanger, Siebe Wiemer Glastra, George Grosz, Seymour Jacobs, Gert Jochems, Nicolas Karakatsanis, Willy Kessels, Meiro Koizumi, Frans Masereel, Paul McCarthy, Boris Mikhailov, George Minne, Lauren Moffatt, Hans Op de Beeck, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, Félicien Rops, Tammo Schuringa, Jan Sluijters, Miroslav Tichý, Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Philippe Vandenberg, Jan Van Imschoot, Ina van Zyl…


Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty: we think we know these stories, but they came to us in sweetened versions. Anthropologist Marita de Sterck sought the older, rawer versions in manuscripts, archives and forgotten collections. In their uncensored form the fairy tales are anything but romantic: they are teeming with horror, violence and eroticism. A clever hunchback seduces a frigid king’s daughter, Catskin carries out even dirtier chores than Cinderella, a young king impregnates a sleeping beauty and a wicked stepmother makes soup of her own child. The fairy tales excite and confront us with guilt, shame and taboo. How do cruel tales teach us to deal with reality? Can they help us make painful experiences more debatable?

Marita de Sterck gives a taste of the age-old treasure of folk tales. Jonas Thys presents the key scenes in powerful images. The exhibition compiles text and images and depicts disturbing as well as familiar fears and fantasies.

Stories from Vuil vel (Catskin) and Beest in bed (Beast in bed), compiled by Marita de Sterck, illustrated by Jonas Thys.


The emergence of the mental institution and the early development of photography coincide around mid-nineteenth century. Psychiatrists and photographers quickly become interested in each other’s world. Until well into the twentieth century patients are photographed as a form of inventory, an attempt to document the illness rather than the ill. In the 1960’s the relationship changes: photographers start to use their pictures to denounce the abuses in psychiatry. The mental hospital as an institution is no longer evident. The fascination with photography still plays an important role in psychiatry. But the stakes have changed: the patient himself starts to work with the medium and gives an insight into his own world. (Photo)sensitive - Psychiatrists Patients Portraits 1865-2015 shows a long and intense history of unexpected and surprising recurring motifs: convulsive hands, strange bodily curves, half hidden medical instruments.

The summer also brings three other expositions: Facing Japan, Condemned and The House.
These exhibitions will be opened mid June and are a part of 80 Days of Summer festival in Ghent.


Difficult crises that have struck the population of Sub-Saharan Africa over the last fifty years, have left their mark on mental health. The care for the mentally ill is limited – the means are insufficient and the stigma is enormous. New Zealand photographer Robin Hammond, winner of the 2014 Dr. Guislain Award, portrayed these people: a voiceless minority banished to forsaken corners in churches, traumatised former child soldiers chained to rusty hospital beds, people who are doomed to spend their lives behind bars.

Facing Japan

With the support of the Flanders Center in Osaka ten renowned Flemish photographers travelled to Japan. Marleen Daniëls, Nick Hannes, Michiel Hendryckx, Jimmy Kets, Maroesjka Lavigne, Tony Le Duc, Charlotte Lybeer , Stephan Vanfleteren, Sarah Van Marcke and Rob Walbers tried to capture Japan in their own way. A country that fires the imagination, but at the same can be very compelling.

The House

A fire destroyed the parental house of photographer Karin Borghouts. The blackened interior evoked feelings of chaos and destruction, but at the same time created an estranging beauty in the abandoned devastation: a scorched painting, a black mirror, a porcelain figurine covered with soot and ashes. Borghout’s intuitive decision to capture this unexpected event, resulted in a very exceptional and personal series.

Tabula Rasa

The exposition ‘Tabula Rasa’ is a project complementary to the exposition ‘Dark Chambers’ and is the result of an intense collaboration with LUCA School of Arts.

The literal translation of ‘Tabula Rasa’ is clean slate. The term refers to what is nowadays known as the idea of starting with a blank page, starting from scratch. The contemporary artworks in the exhibition connect melancholia with volatility, the human memory and the dynamics between old and new. The white chambers of Tabula Rasa connect and simultaneously contrast with ‘Dark Chambers’ and puts the exposition into a new perspective.

Participating artists: Marc De Blieck, Ronny Delrue, Lucas Devriendt, Tom Hallet, David Huycke, Margarita Maximova, Ellen Schroven, Irja Syvertsen, Ad van Campenhout, Hannelore Van Dijck, Philip Van Isacker en Nel Verbeke.
Curator: Wim Lambrecht

Characteristic Faces

Prejudice and stereotypes are as old as humanity itself. In Ancient Greece there already was lots of speculation on the meaning of bodily and facial structures. What does the face hide? Is there a way of ‘reading’ the head? Does the ‘born criminal’ exist?

Why do we believe that the outside tells something more about the inside, about our way of thinking and our talents? Characteristic Faces. On hawk noses and chipmunk cheeks questions the relationship between inside and out and its presence in psychiatry, criminology, and the public opinion. The exhibition illustrates this intriguing but problematic history. At the same time it shows how these old notions are still present today. The role prejudice and stereotypes play in the media and in everyday life must not be underestimated.

Characteristic Faces is a coproduction with Teylers Museum in Harlem, The Netherlands.

A richly illustrated catalogue of the same name accompanies the exhibition. (Dutch and Eng., 160 p., Uitgeverij Lannoo)

Dees De Bruyne

In 1991, the artist Dees De Bruyne was living in the attic of the Dr. Guislain Psychiatric Centre for several weeks. He was a resident who was in regular contact with the patients, which laid the foundation of a series of paintings characterized by passion, eroticism, aggression and a disrupted world-view. Dees De Bruyne was celebrated by one and loathed by the other. For the Museum Dr. Guislain, the series Madness? gave rise to an exhibition displaying the works of this artist from Ghent.



From 14 February until 22 March the Dr. Guislain Museum exhibits drawings by Dooreman. Since 2007 Dooreman designs as graphic designer the posters, folders and catalogues that gave the Dr. Guislain museum its recognizable style. On the occasion of the Henry Van de Velde Award, that he recently received for his career, the museum gives special attention to an often overlooked part Dooreman's oeuvre: his drawings. Even though he is mostly known and popular for his graphic design, his drawings remain the interesting starting point of his career. They may have been less remembered, but they are of an excellent quality.

Earlier this year Gert Dooreman received the Henry Van de Velde Award for his career. On occasion of this award Dooreman publishes an updated, extensive and enhanced reissue of his acclaimed  monograph in collaboration with Lannoo. This book not only highlights his typography and graphic design, but also pays attention to his illustrations, complemented by some of his recent work.

Gert Dooreman started his career as an illustrator for, among others, De Morgen, Playboy and De Standaard. For about fifteen years he combined his activities as an illustrator with those of graphic designer, after which he focused solely on graphic design and especially on typography. He made his name as regular designer for Tom Lanoye’s books, he restyled De Standaard and Humo, designs posters for several theatre companies, and books for just about all the important publishing companies in Flanders and The Netherlands.

Patch Places

A warm family for children to grow up in: it’s a romantic idea. But what if the family doesn’t live up to the expectations? What if it is the minor who’s causing trouble? To protect the child, the government intervenes. But what does it mean for the child? Is the placement in an institution, that acts as a substitute for family, a resting place, a patch place, or is it a life changing, sometimes traumatic experience?

Patch Places depicts the history of youth care: from the optimism of the institution as a pedagogical solution until the most recent sensitivity towards the painful practices. Youth institutions provide care and protection, but can also leave a mark. Are children brought up or held back? Patch Places takes part in a lively and current debate and wants to intensify the many questions concerning youth care.

Dark Chambers

The tormented and depressed soul has always provoked questions. What is the difference between a depressed genius and the madman haunted by melancholic temperaments? What is the influence of the different bodily fluids on a man’s state of mind? Was melancholy caused by an excess of black bile? In which way is man subject to the changing of the seasons and what is the mysterious role of the planet Saturn?

Dark Chambers shows different forms of this age-old melancholy, but also sheds light on its contemporary and pathological counterpart, depression. It shows that melancholy has not only affected many artists and researchers, but also has inspired them. Dark Chambers takes a closer look at this artistic fascination and confronts it with the psychological dimension.

A richly illustrated catalogue accompanies this exhibition (N/F/E, 144 p., Uitgeverij Hannibal).

I see something you don’t see

I see something you don’t see…and the colour is red: a popular child’s game. Guess what I am thinking about? What I see? What runs through my mind? The object that I ‘see’ can be found in this space and the colour is merely a clue. The players guess without anything to go by: a game develops, difficult, funny, witty, exciting and hilarious. Does the player overlook something crucial? Can it be found in the smallest detail? Does he look in the same way as the others.

I see something you don’t see is an exhibition of works made by artists with autism. Will you look at them differently by knowing this? Does prejudice, stigma and small facts on autism change the way you look at this particular art? Or maybe it doesn’t matter and is this work as good or as bad, as yellow or blue as that of artists without autism? I see something you don’t see doesn’t give a definitive answer to these questions. But it challenges us to, just like the game, with the clue in mind, look at this work with an open mind and in this way trying to ‘find’ it.

In cooperation with akku e.V. (Autismus, Kunst und Kultur)

Roger Ballen

The oeuvre of photographer Roger Ballen (1950) leaves a lasting impression. This New Yorker lives and works in South Africa, where he finds his inspiration. He became world famous for his portraits of marginalised Afrikaners, in the midst of the apartheid. Cultural isolation, poverty and incest yield pictures of gaunt figures on the fringes of society. Ballen’s later work is more complex: black and white photographs in which man, animal and drawing merge into one. The cruelty of the human condition, the ultimate tension of the human body, the thin line between normality and abnormality: Ballen’s pictures are overwhelming testimonies of one big psychological journey.

War and Trauma

How were injured soldiers care of at the front taken during World War I? Who did this? How were the victims evacuated? What happened with the soldiers with shellshock? Were they cowards, male hysterics or were they truly traumatised?

On the eve of the major commemorations of World War I, the double exhibition War and trauma clarifies that the focus, also a hundred years on, should be on the fate of the people. The In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres deals with the organisation of general medical care at the front during World War I. The Dr Guislain Museum in Ghent zooms in on several conflicts during the 20th century, but with an emphasis on a specific medical branch, psychiatry.


Soldiers and ambulances 1914-1918

At the beginning of the war not a single European army was ready to relieve the large numbers of victims in a humanitarian way. The fire power of the armies was forced up, the defence reinforced, but the care for victims continued to seriously lag behind. Philanthropy, private initiative and the heroic efforts of many individuals had to deal with failing medical care during the war. The exhibition Soldiers and ambulances 1914-1918 focuses on medical care at the front in the Westhoek. With which types of injuries and illnesses were the physicians in field hospitals confronted? Which treatments were applied? And where can traces of evacuation routes still be found?

As the war progressed, medical care also developed and organisation and relief improved. The greatest breakthrough was, however, the recognition – albeit reluctantly – of mental trauma caused by the war.


Soldiers and psychiatrists 1914-2014

During World War I many soldiers fell victim to bizarre, anxious and disturbed behaviour, which was referred to as ‘shellshock’. The army commanders faced a dilemma: were they really traumatised or were they simply cowards who were trying to stay away from the extremely terrifying front? Should they be evacuated or sent back? And what was the best way to treat shellshock? The exhibition Soldiers and psychiatrists 1914-2014 explores the focus on and dealings with mental suffering during the Great War, but also focuses on more recent conflicts of the past century. How do psychiatrists currently deal with soldiers with posttraumatic stress syndrome? Is there more understanding? And how do reporters and war photographers view acts of war and mental suffering?

Soldiers and psychiatrists portrays the mental consequences of warfare: from the first photos of shellshock and contemporary war photography to drawings of killed psychiatric patients during WWII. But war is sometimes very close: victims of rape and abuse suffer the same symptoms of PTSS. Soldiers and psychiatrists shows the evolution of the concept of trauma: from shellshock to posttraumatic stress syndrome, from 1914 to 2014.

Gideon Kiefer

In a state

The collection of contemporary art of Estelle and Hervé Francès from Senlis, France portrays man in every possible state or form: examined from head to toe, turned inside out, treated with great respect or in an exceptionally brute way.

What becomes visible? Man’s dark side with his urge for destruction and brutality, man involved in a heavy struggle or looking for that which is forbidden, but also man who believes and loves.

Leading international contemporary artists depict our excesses in works on death, religion, war, disease, and sexuality. The pieces are in confrontation with the works of the Museum Dr. Guislain’s permanent collections.

Beauty does not come first; it is man who searches, loses, fights or wins. The images are confronting and, at times, hard to digest.

Estelle and Hervé Francès’ collection invites us to reflect and discuss, makes us aware of ourselves and the world, and it is also shocking, provocative, it makes us look away and gasp for air.

Nervous women

Nervous women

For centuries, women have been considered more ‘nervous’ than men, more susceptible to instability and mental illness, more often bothered by spirits and demons. But are they really more ‘mentally ill’?

In the 19th century some women seemed to go mad due to a lack of behavioural freedom. In the early 21st century some women actually seem to succumb to the burden of ‘freedom’. The image of demands imposed on them by society to have a successful career, look beautiful and lead an exciting social life sometimes seems to be too much. But is it really?

The exhibition presents seven patient-psychiatrist ‘couples’: a remarkable history of how society and psychiatry evolve, how certain syndromes such as hysteria are phenomena of their time and how our times provoke and endure new forms of disturbed behaviour.

Nervous women wants to feed the debate about the ‘specific’ position of women in psychiatry. Nervous women is an exhibition about mania, melancholia, weak nerves, theatrical tics, passionate love, self-mutilation, boredom, rebellion and self-starvation.

Dangerously Young

Having children is a special experience: the future holds infinite possibilities. Children earn love, protection and attention, all of which give them every opportunity to develop as fully as possible. Parents and guardians do everything in their power to make this happen. ‘Children hold the key to the future’, so the saying goes: it’s a solemn promise and a wonderful outlook. But beneath all this, there lurks a fear: what if something goes wrong in their upbringing? What if the child becomes ill? What if society doesn’t give the young person room to develop? What if parents and guardians ‘fail’?

The exhibition Dangerously young. Child in danger, child as danger takes the visitor on a journey full of questions. How do artists portray the uncomplicated, sweet child? But also: how do they depict situations in which the child becomes a danger to adults? How have psychiatrists, parents or journalists described, brought up or helped children who, in one way or another, constitute a danger?

The exhibition is accompanied by a full-colour, 192-page catalogue (in Dutch and English), published by Lannoo and designed by Dooreman, with contributions from experts including Peter Adriaenssens, Bruno Vanobbergen and Gerda Dendooven.

Dangerously young is a joint venture between the Commission on Children’s Rights’, Kopergietery, Gezinsbond and the Dr. Guislain Museum.

Lecture Andrew Scull

On Thursday 10 December Andrew Scull’s recent book, Madness in Civilization, will be presented in the Dr. Guislain Museum. This book gives an overview of the complex history of ‘madness’ and our attempts at care in a fascinating and visual way. On the occasion of the new publication, Andrew Scull gives a lecture on some aspects of this intriguing history.

Andrew Scull is Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Science Studies, University of California, San Diego. He has previously taught at the University of Pennsylvania and at Princeton. His many publications include Museums of Madness; Social Order/Mental Disorder; The Most Solitary of Afflictions: Madness and Society in Britain, 1700–1900; Masters of Bedlam; Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine; and Madness: A Very Short Introduction. He has also published numerous articles and reviews in leading journals, including the TLS, The Lancet and Brain.

Thursday 10 December at 8:00 p.m. at the Dr. Guislain Museum, Jozef Guislainstraat 43, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. Subscribe via info@museumdrguislain.be, 5 euros entry per person.

Dr. Guislain Award 2015

The Dr. Guislain Award highlights and rewards individuals, organisations or projects that have made an exceptional contribution in the social or cultural field in breaking the chains of stigma with regard to mental illness. It is aimed at initiatives that deal with mental health care in a responsible, clear and dynamic way and initiatives that promote the creativity of those suffering from mental illness, including the prevention of social exclusion by questioning behaviour in its social context. This concerns initiatives which emphasise the dignity of sufferers in a passionate, creative and innovative way.

$50,000 is linked to this international prize, which is awarded annually on the occasion of World Mental Health Day. The winner must use the prize money in a way that reflects the winning initiative. Applications may be freely submitted, after which the decision will be made by an independent jury whose members have worldwide authority in the field of mental health care.

In 2012, the Museum Dr. Guislain and Janssen Research and Development have joined together to demonstrate the continuing need to educate the general public on the harmful effects of social exclusion – from their condition growing worse to not seeking treatment because of the shame they feel, or fear of the way they will be treated. On October 9th, 2014, Robin Hammond, a New Zealand native who now lives in Paris, received the third Dr. Guislain Award in New York, USA. Let his story, which you can find below, inspire you to nominate your own candidate.
Nominations for the Dr. Guislain Award 2015 are open until March 1st, 2015 and are easily done. In a first stage, nominations are done by filling out a short nomination form on the website of the Dr. Guislain Award. From these nominations, the most inspiring ones will be selected and asked to provide more in-depth information, which will be presented to the jury for deliberation. Please find further details and the nomination form on http://www.drguislainaward.org The award ceremony will take place in Ghent on October 8th, 2015, on the occasion of World Mental Health Day.

Did you already nominate a candidate for the last edition? We would be pleased to receive this nomination again for the Dr. Guislain Award 2015. New developments can turn your project into a winner for this year’s edition.
The inspiring story of Robin Hammond

Robin Hammond, a documentary photographer and filmmaker, has been selected as the 2014 winner of the Dr. Guislain “Breaking the Chains of Stigma” Award for his striking photojournalism that exposes the mistreatment of mentally ill people in African nations in crisis.
“The Dr. Guislain Award is proud to honor the work of advocates like Mr. Hammond who have illuminated the fight against stigma related to mental illness,” said Siri Hustvedt, jury member of the Dr. Guislain Award selection committee and internationally known author of twelve books, including an account of her own neurological illness. “Through the power of photography, Hammond has raised crucial awareness of the challenges faced by people with mental illness in countries were mental health care is under-resourced or nonexistent.”
Mr. Hammond’s photography of mentally ill people in nations such as the South Sudan, Liberia and Uganda document the struggles faced by patients with brain disorders in many developing nations. The resulting images, many of which are striking and unsettling, have been published in a photo book entitled, “CONDEMNED-Mental Health in African Countries in Crisis.” Hammond was named the recipient of the 2014 Pictures of the Year International World Understanding Award for the project. These photographs also won second place in the 2014 World Press Photo of the Year awards and will be exhibited in 100 cities throughout the world to an anticipated 3.5 million visitors. Mr. Hammond delivers lectures throughout the world on the effects of stigma and the need to advocate for these patients.
“The goal of my work is to create awareness of and a voice for people with mental illness who have been forgotten by society, and to begin dialogue that will lead to change,” said Hammond.  “It has been enormously rewarding to experience the outpouring of support for my work on behalf of patients and their loved ones.”
With the aid of several grassroots organizations, Hammond plans to develop a traveling exhibit that will feature new photographs, images from the CONDEMNED book, information on mental illness and anti-stigma messages. The exhibit will be displayed both in nations providing support and those countries most affected by stigma.
“Mr. Hammond’s passionate advocacy holds the potential to transform the public perception of these illnesses,” said Brother René Stockman, general manager of the Museum Dr. Guislain. “To see and experience his work is to understand the ongoing need for mental health activism and education, particularly in the most remote of nations.”

Lecture by James Warhton

Saturday 20 June, AHRC Network organizes a lecture by James Wharton on his book 'Out in the Army: My life as a gay soldier'. He starts a dialogue on sexuality, modern equality and conflict and also talks about his own personal battle which he faced during his time in the British army. The lecture will be given in English.

Sing up: passionsofwar@outlook.be

Saturday 20 June, 5PM.

Place: Museum Dr. Guislain- Jozef Guislainstraat 43 - 9000 Gent


In 2014, in the midst of a lasting period where institutions seem to have become ever more alienated from each other in the effort of scientifically proving the success of their services, DON’T EAT THE MICROPHONE starts. An artist, a ex-car-mechanic, a geologist and a psychoanalyst joined forces to create a space for gathering where neurotics and psychotics could spend time together beyond the paradigm therapist-patient.

DON'T EAT THE MICROPHONE is a practice, a dispositive and a machine where voicing is in a constant process of emergence and dissolution. We meet in a garden. We meet in a particular garden. If it's sunny we find rest in the shade of the trees or lay in the sun. If rain is coming we hide the wires and avoid electrocution. Either way we settle there, in the garden of the psychiatric hospital Dr. Guislain. And who are we? And are we? And we are. And. Who? We are microphones, wires, coffee, birds, vinyls, cigarettes, tunes, keyboards, sometimes a dog, voice-effects, patients, trees, text, outsiders, wind, artist, therapist, dust, a rusty guitar, psychotics, wanderers, neurotics, non-sense, acceleration, plastic, pause, echoes, interruptions, overlaps... We are a bunch played by different voices.

The invitation is to meet and share time outside of our private echo chambers. Every week we meet and create a space in a space outside. People are welcome to come and go, enter and exit the sessions. Once inside, one can enter a mode of listening and enunciation. Enunciation is understood here as the passage from language to speech, as the appropriation of language by an individual act. It’s the mediation between language and speech. 

When desire is triggered, as we hunt the cadence of collective enunciation, a certain kind of attention is evoked. It's not the hunter with guns chasing its prey with barking dogs, but rather the hunter who listens to the movements of what s_he wants to catch and silently positions her_himself in the place of what s_he hears.

This cadence of collective enunciation is a pace, a movement of searching, finding and losing a harmonious tone.

The invitation is to let oneself be driven by the outside of a familiar language. To stretch the measurements and agreements of one’s behaviour and speech in the contact with others. And bring people from different contexts together. During the sessions one might realise that outside her_his own language there is a mumbling field of others.

For this year's edition DON'T EAT THE MICROPHONE uses the format of a podcast radio channel. There is no show or linear program. The channel transmits a sound-scape. A situation. An atmosphere. It transmits what happens in the garden to different spaces. It transmits voices — not only as a force emanating from the body but as well a force that reaches out to affect other bodies and spaces.

Visitors of the Museum Dr. Guislain or passersby, might be affected by the voices of those in the garden. But such soundscapes can also be heard now inside the permanent exhibition The History of Psychiatry. Between the psychiatric and the artistic, the private and the public territories, the sound of our sessions attempts to occupy the role of a transitional space among different institutions.

You are welcome to join us in the garden every Wednesday between 14h and 17h until the 7th of September or to visit the permanent exhibition where you can hear us!

With the support of Vooruit, Psychiatric Centre Dr. Guislain and Dr. Guislain Museum .

Yoga in the Dr. Guislain Museum

Yoginis Mounira Bazzi and Katherine Walker bring yoga to the Dr. Guislain Museum. They will teach a 45 minute yoga class, followed by a presentation on yoga psychology. Sign up by sending an e-mail to info@museumdrguislain.be. Price: 10 euro (including a ticket to the museum, open from 13h till 17h). The lesson will be given in English. Please bring your own yoga mat.

Imagine the brain, imagining human

Angst, or dread, is usually considered to be a negative emotion. Fear is functional for survival, an appropriate response to protect yourself from harm. For thinkers such as Kierkegaard, Heidegger and Sartre the  realisation that we are free causes dread, but this also forces us to take responsibility for our actions. Their discourse stands in stark contrast with medical or neurological accounts of dread as a pathological condition, in need of therapy. Although potentially alleviating the negative aspects of anxiety, such perspectives also diminish its positive potential. This series of artistic interpretations of the concept of anxiety was created by the iArts students, under guidance of artist Juul Sadée and philosopher Laurens Landeweerd. Angst is presented from a subjective, existential, social, and a neurological viewpoint.

The Look of the Living Dead

The result of a four-week workshop with Thomas Bellinck and 6 Bachelor students of Drama

Spoken language: English

Location: Museum Dr. Guislain (Lezingzaal), Jozef Guislainstraat 43, Gent

The performance is playing on:
Saturday 25 November 2017 at 3PM
Sunday 26 November 2017 at 3PM     

RESERVATION (up to November 24 18:00: https://www.kaskdrama.be/voorstellingen/dramaprojecten/the-look-of-the-living-dead.html

Tickets: 5€ (standard) | 3€ (students, unemployed,  65+ en staff and alumni School of Arts) | 0€ (students, teachers en alumni KASK DRAMA, jury)

A ticket for the expo Fear on the same date of the performance gives you free access to the performance. Reservation is recommended!  

Little Summer Guests

In this exhibition hall children rule. Come to Little Summer Guests after your museum visit to play, create and have fun. Tinker, draw and sculpt, inspired by the art pieces from Summer Guests. Together we can create a summer exhibition during Schatten van Vlieg.

Music, performance and art

Discover the new exhibition of the Dr. Guislain Museum. Besides a visit to Unhinged and Underexposed, you will enter the hall of mirrors of the distorted note, the wild universe of expression and unfiltered sound. Project Z honours the loved and unloved music of exceptional artists. Prepare yourself for a night filled with musical surprises from, among others, Babenko, Pawlowski and De Wachter.

Participation in Cultural Heritage for Mental Health Recovery

That museums, archives, heritage organisations and the like can create a social value and have a positive impact on health and wellbeing is not just a matter of belief. It’s possible, provided that they develop sustainable offerings in close co-operation with the care sector, communities and the wellbeing policies. Offerings that meet the needs of people and communities, not the heritage agenda.

On many places in the world archives, museums, heritage organisations, universities and organizations in the health care sector are working together on long-term trajectories, creative projects and out-of-the box activities. Many of these focus on deploying heritage collections to improve the wellbeing and health of people as well as measuring and evaluate the impact of those interventions. This conference wants to bring together, on 29 and 30 November 2018 in Museum Dr. Guislain in Ghent (Belgium), individuals from the public, academic, third sector and voluntary sectors to promote learning, discussion and debate around interventions with cultural heritage with the aim of improving the wellbeing and health of people recovering from mental health problems or people in a vulnerable situation.

Museum Dr. Guislain, Jozef Guislainstraat 43, 9000 Ghent

Organised by FARO. Flemish interface centre for cultural heritage in co-operation with Museum Dr. Guislain, MIAT Museum about Industry, Labour and Textile, Iedereen Leest and University Library Ghent.

More info and registration: Website Faro

Museum Night

On 6 December 2018, the museums of Ghent won’t bother with closing times again. The Dr. Guislain Museum will open its doors for free entry that night! Visit the Sensations. Between Passion and Pain exhibition for Museum Night. The expo also inspires students and teachers of GO! Kunstacademie Gent. Come and listen to their improvisations inspired by pieces from Sensations. Wisper will be present that night with several workshops on art and insanity, for which you can sign up or just come and see the result. In the courtyard, you can experience Kyoko Scholiers’ sound installation Misconnected. A sensational evening!

Museum Night is free, except for the Wisper workshops. Sign up for them on their website www.wisper.be.

Imagine the Brain | Imagining Human

For the past few weeks, the first year students of iArts Maastricht have been creating works inspired by the collection ‘Unhinged’’ in museum Dr. Guislain in Ghent. Categorized under the themes architecture, power & powerlessness, body & mind, classification and imagination, Unhinged is a presentation of the story that lies between the walls of the building that the museum is housed in, namely a mental hospital. It explores the question: What is psychiatry and how might we imagine a museum of psychiatry? And questions the position of psychology and psychological well-being in a society that is growing more and more complex. 

Museum Dr. Guislain combines scientific and ethnographic research with research in arts, culture and all the facets of social and medical history, which laid a great base for iArts students to build their own paths of (artistic) research on. Multiple visits to the museum led to individual explorations on the topics of the brain and mental health and spending time in the building, learning about its history fueled them artistically and showed them the many different approaches they could take to the topics at hand. Additionally, attending a lecture on a possible connection between creativity and madness by Dr. Louis Sass helped them further develop their own ideas toward the creation of their artworks. 

Initially intended for an exhibition in Museum Dr. Guislain itself, we kindly invite you to experience our works on this digital platform as a result of the current COVID-19 situation. We hope to exhibit the many different directions each of us took within this research and hope you enjoy our final works.

Webinar Engagement from a distance

Tuesday June 9th 2020, 11.00 – 12.30 hour GMT / The registrations have now been closed.

How do you reconcile an ongoing community project with social distancing? For a number of practitionars and community workers, this question is currently very important. After all, it is far from self-evident for people in a vulnerable situation to participate in  digital communities. Certainly if meeting physically with others and doing hands-on activities are essential to support their wellbeing and mental health.

To explore how we can develop expertise to support people in a vulnerable situation online, some partners from the heritage and mental healh sectors in Flanders came together. They already are working together in a serie of projects in the program Cultural heritage, health and wellbeing. With this international webinar ‘Engagement from a distance’ they want to share best practices and discuss the topic of community engagement from a distance with colleagues from all over the world.

Organized by Museum Dr. Guislain and FARO. Flemish interface centre for cultural heritage


  • 11h00 Introduction by Bart De Nil (FARO)
  • 11h10 Ilse Mariën (imec-SMIT-VUB) Taskforce e-inclusion and the COVID-19 crisis in Flanders: Prof. Dr. Ilse Mariën is a post-doc researcher at imec-SMIT, a research institution attached to the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) where she is leading several policy-oriented projects related to the societal impact of digitalization, digital inequalities, digital skills and e-inclusion. Ilse heads the Data Governance and Communities Unit – a team of over 15 junior and senior researchers – and coordinates the Databuzz program which focuses on strengthening data literacy within schools and adult education. During the COVID-19 crisis, she founded the Taskforce e-inclusion together with over 20 civil society organisations, local authorities, researchers and industry actors. The aim of the Taskforce is to rapidly tackle the lack of access to digital tools amongst vulnerable groups and provide online and offline support to those lacking digital skills.
  • 11h30 Tom Vansteenkiste (Recovery Academy Antwerp) Online safeguarding if you are working with vulnerable participants: Tom Vansteenkiste is psychologist and coordinator within the psychiatric services of Zorggroep Multiversum. During his professional career he build up expertise in psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery oriented care for people with serious mental illness. As coordinator of the Antwerp Recovery Academy he is firmly convinced that working with cultural heritage benefits the recovery process of mentally vulnerable people. He works with archives, museums and libraries on several pilots. He is now examining how to work with clients of the psychiatric services and the Recovery Academy in an online and virtual context whilst safeguarding it as a safe place.
  • 12h50 Claire Wellesley-Smith (Open University) Local Colour and Bradford Covid-19 Stitch Journal: Claire Wellesley-Smith is an artist, writer and researcher based in Bradford, West Yorkshire. She delivers the long-term artist residency ‘Local Colour’. A hands-on community project in Accrington, Lancashire which is now continuing to work online. She also led the Bradford Covid-19 Stitch Journal project. This community textile project largely took place virtually due to social distancing requirements.
  • 12h10 Q&A
  • 12h30 Presentation program international conference ‘Cultural Heritage for Mental Health 2’ on 10 and 11 december 2020 in Museum Dr. Guislain in Ghent.

Family Trail

There is an exciting family trail around Sensations. You explore the exhibition at your own pace and discover creative things to do. Look at the art in different ways, with different senses. The objects stir the imagination and evoke a sense of wonder. They take you to another world.

When? At any time during opening hours
Who? For families with children between ages 5 to 10
Price? Free (adults pay museum admission)

Danser brut online

Would you rather not visit the museum in person yet, but are you nevertheless curious about the exhibition Danser brut? Then you can visit the virtual 360° tour. Walk through the exhibition halls online and get to know more about the pieces that we have picked out for you! The exhibition takes a look at movement in all its forms: from carousels to dance epidemics, from trance to hysteria, from the mental institution to the stage. Do you want to explore the exhibition with your children? Then follow the online route Dance your dance (only in Dutch). Yogamine created a series of exercises that fit the several themes of Danser brut. Imagine how it would feel to be a carousel. Use your imagination and create your own dance. Fysical movements, movement meditation, breathing exercises and song pass by.

Discover the tour and the route online. The different icons indicate where you can view an image, read more info or find an exercise of Dance your dance.

Modernism and Madness - On Creativity and Mental Illness

Prevailing conceptions of creativity derive from romanticist ideas about the “creative imagination.” Whereas romanticism views creative inspiration as a highly emotional, Dionysian, or primal state, the modernism and postmodernism of the 20th and 21st centuries have emphasized, rather, hyper-self-consciousness and alienation.  An understanding of these latter trends—which are strongly anti-romantic in spirit—can help one to recognize and appreciate the particular forms of creativity that are characteristic of persons in the schizophrenia spectrum, a group whose creative potential has often been overlooked or denied.

Encountering the Other

Encephalon… The area of the central nervous system includes all higher nervous centers enclosed within the skull. A metaphor for connection. Our brains are comparable to a network that is constantly connecting and interacting with every other system in our body. We, as iArts students we want to explore the mysteries of the mind.

Iarts is a community of multidisciplinary artists. Bringing together artistic research and creation, the community aims to promote projects created and realized through artistic leadership guiding the application of social and cultural aesthetics. Within the framework of the project: “Imagining Brain, imagining human”, we want to discover the connection between the brain and the urge of creating. We will try to understand why we make art and what is the reason for the urge to make art.

This project will be in collaboration with the Dr Guislan museum of psychiatry in Ghent, a collaboration that will help us combine scientific and ethnographic research with artistic and cultural research. Moreover, we will work on different products and processes related to the link between psychiatry, arts, culture, society, and philosophy. The themes of the project are inspired by the museum’s exhibitions such as: “Body and mind” and “Fascination with the other”. It should be noted that the museum hopes to succeed in proving that ‘psychiatric disorders are not purely medical. Socio-cultural and ideological structures can dramatically determine our attitude towards mental illness. The goal of the Dr Guislan museum goes beyond the history of psychiatry. The exhibitions and the other activities are questioning the distinction between normal and abnormal.

A project that will invite us to meet new people, new places, new acquaintances. Art can be the place of a meeting with others. Encountering with others is in our human nature. This has always been a fundamental experience for our species. Therefore, the topic of our project “Encountering With the Other” will allow us to explore the connection between humans and how do we perceive each other.

Nigel Gibson – Frantz Fanon, Psychiatry and Politics

Today many societal debates on topics such as identity, community and mental health are influenced by psychiatry and its history. However, the influence is often underexposed. To get a grip on those debates, insight into the turbulent history of psychiatry and the characters that shaped it, are crucial. Therefore, Dr. Guislain Museum organizes a series of lectures in the spring of 2021 on some remarkable psychiatrists.

A first presentation will be held on 24 March 2021 at 8 PM (CET) on Frantz Fanon (1925-1961). Fanon is known as a freedom fighter during the Algerian War of Independence and is still crucial in debates on decolonization, antiracism and in movements such as Black Lives Matter. In less than ten years, from 1952 to 1961, Fanon defended his medical thesis in France, took up his post as a psychiatrist at Blida-Joinville Hospital in Algeria, and wrote three books. In this incredibly short period of time - he died at the age of 36 - we can see how the ideas Fanon developed as a psychiatrist are intertwined with the ideas he developed as an antiracist social critic and as an anticolonial revolutionary humanist.

Nigel Gibson (UK/US) is an expert on Fanon and will be giving a short lecture with the possibility to ask questions afterwards. In his lecture, he will illuminate the way Fanon’s political insights and activism are linked to his work as a psychiatrist.

Nigel C. Gibson is an activist and academic specializing in the work of the Algerian revolutionary Frantz Fanon. Gibson is author of Fanon: The Postcolonial Imagination (Polity Press, 2003), which won the 2009 Caribbean Philosophy Frantz Fanon Outstanding Book Award and was translated into Arabic in 2013, and Fanonian Practices in South Africa: From Steve Biko to Abahlali baseMjondolo (University of Kwa Zulu-Natal Press and Palgrave MacMillan, 2011). His latest work is Fanon: Psychiatry and Politics, co-authored with Roberto Beneduce (Rowman and Littlefield and University of Witwatersrand Press, 2017). He teaches at Emerson College, Boston USA and is Honorary Professor in the Humanities Unit at the University currently known as Rhodes, South Africa.

When? 24 March 2021, 8 PM – 9 PM (CET), with the possibility for Q&A
Where? Online, via Zoom (after registration)
The presentation will be held in English!