Journal Article

The <i>Musée de la folie</i>: Collecting and exhibiting <i>chez les fous</i>

Allison Morehead

in Journal of the History of Collections

Volume 23, issue 1, pages 101-126
Published in print May 2011 | ISSN: 0954-6650
Published online October 2010 | e-ISSN: 1477-8564 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jhc/fhq024
The Musée de la folie: Collecting and exhibiting chez les fous

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The 1905 opening of Dr Auguste Marie’s Musée de la folie, at the Villejuif Asylum on the outskirts of Paris, has long been viewed as a key moment in the early history of the art of the insane. But surprisingly little is known about the museum and its collection. This article argues that the Musée de la folie was in fact a largely imaginary entity that intersected both with the asylum itself and with a planned Musée rétrospectif psychiatrique. Exploring the various discourses constructed through Marie's collection and through similar collections and museum projects across Europe permits not only a critique of the teleological narrative usually told about the discovery of the art of the insane, but also provides a richer understanding of the psychiatric and popular contexts in which Marie's heterogeneous collection, including the art works of his patients, was originally gathered, represented and consumed.

Journal Article.  16523 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Exhibition Catalogues and Specific Collections ; History of Art ; Social and Cultural History

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