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Beyond The Towers

Beyond the Towers
Learn the stories from the Buffalo State Hospital

The history of the Buffalo State Hospital—also known as the Richardson Olmsted Complex, H.H. Richardson, Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane, Buffalo Psychiatric Center—is not only rich in architecture but also rich in psychiatry tales. While walking through the idyllic grounds, amid connecting corridors, do you ever stop to wonder what formerly transpired behind the charming yet fortress-like edifice? The stories of former patients residing in the Buffalo State Hospital and the overall living conditions and stigma of mental illness, has mostly gone untold—until now.

The Museum of disABILITY History will host a book launch of Buffalo State Hospital: A History of the Institution in Light and Shadow, on Saturday (1/23), from 2 to 3:30pm, at 3826 Main Street, Buffalo. The book offers rare insights into this mental health institution as told by patients, employees and neighbors. It is a one-of-a-kind publication that includes full-color photos from the Museum’s collection, as well as 100 exclusive images of the shuttered institution from modern-archeological photographer Ian Ference.

The book is published by People Ink Press: established by The Museum of disABILITY, in 2010, in order to publish books related to disability history and to be an educational resource. The publishing company is also dedicated to producing children’s books in order to promote and celebrate differences and provide lessons on self-confidence and character development.

Established in 1998, the Museum of disABILITY History is the only one of its kind in the United States and is dedicated to advancing the understanding, acceptance and independence of people with disabilities. The Museum’s exhibits, collections, archives and educational programs create awareness and a platform for dialogue and discovery.

Throughout this book launch event, personal stories about Buffalo State Hospital will be shared by Karl Shallowhorn, former patient, and Paul Shea, former employee. Additionally, David Mack-Hardiman, associate vice president of People Inc., will discuss his career and the stigma of mental illness. The varying perspectives will bring the book alive and get the conversation regarding mental health started.

The event also includes a re-introduction of the Museum’s exhibit, “The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic,” as part of its permanent collection. There will also be an opportunity to view a new, short documentary, produced by local videographer Jon Hand, in the Museum of disABILITY History’s recently opened experiential theater.

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