Originally opened in 1879, this historic gem in Pueblo, Colorado is so obscure that most locals don’t realize it exists. What was once known as the Colorado State Insane Asylum, became the Colorado State Hospital in the early 1900s before being reincarnated as the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo and a museum.
In its heydey, the Colorado Mental Health Institute was home to over six thousand patients and was an oasis of healing set amongst verdant fields and charming farms. The philosophy of mental health back in the early 1900s was to isolate and separate patients from society. That approach to mental health changed dramatically in 1962 when leaps in medication and treatment would allow for less restrictive mental health facilities.
Today, the museum—whose mascot is a calico cat by the name of Hallie—contains artifacts from its past. The museum, which is part of the still-active Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, has electroshock therapy equipment, straight jackets, and human remains of patients from forgotten unmarked graves on display.
Visitors to the museum can take the tour, watch a movie on the history of the institute, or just browse the displays independently. The mental hospital has been in Pueblo for 139 years so there is much to explore.
Know Before You Go
The Museum is located on the grounds of the existing Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo. Presently, the Museum is only open on Tuesdays or by appointment and includes a tour, a short film, and a presentation. However, it is acceptable just to wander and browse the displays, and look through the scrapbooks at your own pace.