Museum to Host New Exhibit, Hold Grand Opening Event

When Willard Psychiatric Center in New York’s Finger Lakes closed in 1995, workers discovered hundreds of suitcases in the attic of an abandoned building. Many of them appeared untouched since their owners packed them decades earlier before entering the institution. The Museum of disABILITY History will host a limited-time traveling exhibit called, The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic, starting with a grand opening event on Friday, February 27, at 6 p.m., at 3826 Main Street, Buffalo.

The suitcases and their contents bear witness to the rich, complex lives their owners lived prior to being committed to Willard. They speak about aspirations, accomplishments, community connections, but also about loss and isolation.

The exhibit tells the stories of the suitcase owners and offers a patient-centered view of the history of psychiatry, and will be on display at the Museum until April 11.

The grand opening event is a fundraiser for the Museum of disABILITY History. The event admission is $25. The exclusive event, includes wine and hors d’oeuvres. For more information, click here or call 716-629-3626. Reservations for the opening event are required.

The exhibit was created by The Community Consortium, an organization that works to promote the full citizenship and civil rights of people with psychiatric disabilities.


The Museum of disABILITY History will now be open from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday! Please stop in for a tour of our unique collection!


LITTLE DIFFERENCES: The Portrayal of Children with disABILITIES Throughout History is now available as a Traveling Exhibit.


The highly anticipated “Abandoned Asylums of New England: A Photographic Journey by John Gray” is now available for purchase at the museum store! The book offers the work of photographer John Gray, who has captured the final throes of the once majestic monuments of medical treatment. This photographic journey into the world of urban exploration documents the state of some of New England’s storied temples of control, treatment and rehabilitation of individuals with disabling conditions.

The Museum of disABILITY History provides a historical context for these asylums that heightens the degree of entropy into which these feats of architectural grandeur have fallen. From the gigantic Kirkbride campuses to the airy tuberculosis hospitals, Gray’s photography reveals through its compositions the poignant echoes of the lives lived, and sometimes lost, at these disappearing asylums. Click on the Museum Store tab and get your copy today!