Crichton hidden gem exhibition image

Dumfries Crichton Royal - A Hidden Gem

18 July - 22 August: Gallery 2

An exhibition of works of art by patients confined in Crichton Royal Institution, Dumfries, in the mid-nineteenth century. The collection was formed by Dr William Alexander Francis Browne (1805 - 1885), the first Physician Superintendent of the Crichton, 1838 - 1857. Browne was a pioneer of the moral treatment of asylum patients. Under his guidance patients - male and female, paying and pauper - were stimulated by artistic, musical, literary and cultural activities designed to cure, or at least alleviate, their mental diseases

Such was his interest in his patients’ work that in 1880 Dr Browne was able to describe three large volumes of ‘Art in Madness’ filled with their paintings and drawings. Much of the original artwork remains in Dumfries (134 drawings and paintings as well as a few other examples in Edinburgh) making it the earliest surviving collection of art by a group of asylum patients in the world. It is fitting that the first major exhibition to focus purely on this significant collection should be held in Dumfries

This exhibition will present a wide selection of the work from Browne’s original collection and will place the artwork within the context of moral treatment, early psychiatry and asylum life
The stories of the patients involved in art activity will be told alongside samples of their work
The collection is the subject of a fully illustrated book and catalogue (M. Park, Art in Madness: Dr W. A. F. Browne’s Collection of Patient Art at Crichton Royal Institution, Dumfries. Dumfries: Dumfries and Galloway Health Board, 2010)