John Crispin's Willard suitcase project

This is remarkable: photographer John Crispin is documenting suitcases -- and their contents -- from a long-closed state mental facility that have been preserved at the State Museum. He explains on his Kickstarter page:

In 1995, the New York State Museum was moving items out of the Willard Psychiatric Center in Willard, NY which was being closed by the State Office of Mental Health. It would eventually become a state-run drug rehabilitation center. Craig Williams and his staff became aware of an attic full of suitcases in the pathology lab building. The cases were put into storage when their owners were admitted to Willard sometime between 1910 and the 1960s. And since the facility was set up to help people with chronic mental illness, these folks never left. An exhibit of a small selection of the cases was produced by the Museum and was on display in Albany in 2003. It was very moving to read the stories of these people, and to see objects from their lives before they became residents of Willard.
I have been given the incredible opportunity to photograph these cases and their contents. To me, they open a small window into the lives of some of the people who lived at the facility.

He explains more in the video embedded above. His Kickstarter project has already reached its funding goal -- and then some.

Crispin has been posting some of the images from this project on a blog. The collections of items are beautiful in a way.

Crispin says on Kickstarter the State Museum has more than 400 suitcases in its collection. A handful of them were on display at the museum in 2004, and later became a traveling exhibit (exhibit website). There was also a book that came out of the exhibit, The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic . [Village Voice] [USA Today]

(Thanks, Jess!)

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