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Exhibit finds permanent home at Museum of disABILITY History

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Sat, Oct 13th 2018 12:15 pm
'The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic' exhibit inspires dialogue about treatment of those with mental illness
When Willard Psychiatric Center in New York's Finger Lakes closed in 1995, workers discovered hundreds of suitcases in the attic of an abandoned building. Since their discovery, an exhibit was created that showcases the moving stories behind these suitcases.
"The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic" exhibit has found a home at the Museum of disABILITY History, a project of People Inc. A grand-opening, which will include the unveiling of a suitcase, will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Museum of disABILITY History, 3826 Main St., Buffalo.
One of the suitcase and its contents, once belonging to a man named Lawrence Mocha, will be displayed as part of the exhibit, thanks to support from his family and the New York State Museum.
During the opening event, Max Donatelli of the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition will speak about the stigma surrounding mental health. Attendees are encouraged to join the conversation with a Q&A session.
"The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic" was curated by Darby Penney and Peter Stastny for the Community Consortium. Copies of their book by the same name will be available for purchase.
The goal of the exhibit is to bring the stories of the suitcase owners and a patient-centered view of the history of psychiatry to a wider audience. For almost 10 years, the exhibit traveled the country from coast to coast, hosted by 30 venues in 11 different states. It was seen by thousands of people.
This event is a fundraiser for the Museum of disABILITY History. Admission is $10 for adults $6 for seniors (age 60-plus), students and human service employees (with identification), and free for children under age 6 as well as members of the Museum of disABILITY History. For more information, or to register, contact David Mack-Hardiman at [email protected] or call 716-629-3606. Refreshments will be provided. Reservations for the event are required.
"The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic" exhibit was created by The Community Consortium, an organization that works to promote the full citizenship and civil rights of people with psychiatric disabilities.
Established in 1998, the Museum of disABILITY History is the only one of its kind in the U.S. It is dedicated to advancing the understanding, acceptance and independence of people with disabilities. The museum's exhibits, collections, publications, archives and educational programs create awareness and a platform for dialogue and discovery.

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