Haunting Photos of Asylum Patients’ Discarded Belongings

Long since shuttered by the state, New York’s Willard Asylum for the Insane was once home to residents dealing with chronic mental illness — many, who never left the institution after being admitted. In 1995, New York State Museum staffers discovered an entire attic full of suitcases belonging to these lifelong patients. Now, photographer Jon Crispin is hoping to document and archive the cases and their contents as part of a new project that he’s funding on Kickstarter.

“I am so interested in these cases,” he writes. “I like the idea of documenting the care and energy that the museum has put into them. And I am totally wigged out by being able to photograph a representation of the lives of people who struggled so much to make it in a very stressful and confusing world.” Click through to check out a slide show of some of the images that Crispin has already captured.


A suitcase belonging to Freda B. Photo credit: Jon Crispin. [Spotted via Colossal]