Säter Museum of Mental Health – Säter, Sweden - Atlas Obscura

Säter Museum of Mental Health

Säter, Sweden

A museum dedicated to the history of psychiatric treatment featuring a gallery of art made by patients. 


In the early 20th century in Sweden, a team of doctors was sent out to survey what parts of the country mental disorders were most commonly found. In the process they saw the most horrific examples of how the mentally ill were treated, one being a 12-year-old girl kept in a cage by her family.

The city of Säter was chosen as the ideal location to build a state of the art psychiatric hospital at the time. The philosophy was to treat mental illness with clean air, cleanliness, food, and rest, and the spot was chosen for, among other things, its beautiful nature.

Unfortunately the psychiatric hospital was not free from cruel and questionable methods. Insulin shock therapy to produce coma and convulsions was used as well as electric shock therapy and lobotomy. However the introduction of new medicines in the 1950s would forever change the treatment of mental illness.

Today, one of the buildings at the hospital has been converted into a museum dedicated to mental care. Here visitors can see traces of the darker history, like devices used for lobotomy of patients. The exhibition also features stories about the patients and how some of them found peace in their life at the hospital. Most notably, the exhibition also features art made by the patients, offering an insight into their inner selves.

Know Before You Go

The Säter Museum of Mental Health is located outside of the town of Säter in Sweden. It can be reached by car or by bus from the town. It is only open when tours are given and reservations have to be made beforehand. Contact information can be found on their homepage.