Münsingen Psychiatric Centre
“Münsingen Mental Asylum” was the second psychiatric institution to be opened (in 1895) in the Canton of Bern. It formed an organisational unit together with “Waldau Cantonal Mental Asylum and University Clinic.” Between the two world wars, Münsingen housed over a thousand patients. Under Ulrich Brauchli (1862–1939, director 1868–1934), the clinic suffered from notorious overcrowding: many patients were inactive, which Max Müller (1894–1980, director 1939–1954) described impressively in his “Recollections.” The writer Friedrich Glauser (1896–1938) was a patient at Münsingen in the years 1918–1919 and 1925–1926. He described life in the asylum in his detective story Matto regiert (1936). Heinrich Anton Müller (1869–1930) is one of the clinic’s outstanding artists. His work consists of 45 drawings, with poems, hymns, and other kinds of texts written on the reverse side. Müller made his drawings on cartons used to store steel shavings. Five photographs depicting four of his (destroyed) machines have survived. Most of his drawings were found in the attic, where Rudolf Wyss (senior psychiatrist, 1948–1954) kept them stored against damage. Some of Müller’s works were found at Waldau and, following Hans Prinzhorn’s call for submissions to his collection, six of Müller’s drawings were sent to Heidelberg Psychiatric Clinic (Inv. Nr. 1635-39, 1646N.). Today, they are held in various locations: the Adolf Wölfli Foundation, which forms part of Bern’s Museum of Fine Arts (twenty drawings), the Prinzhorn Collection; the Collection de l’Art Brut (six drawings); and in private collections. Most of the historical works from Münsingen were transferred to the Bern Museum of Psychiatry (Bern/Waldau University Psychiatric Services) so that no historical works are said to be kept at Münsingen.
Glauser, Friedrich, Matto regiert, Kriminalroman, Echte, Bernhard (ed.) (1936) Zürich 1999
Kurzmeyer, Roman (ed.) Heinrich Anton Müller, Katalog der Maschinen, Zeichnungen und Schriften, Ausst. Kat. Kunstmuseum Bern 28 September–27 November 1994, Basel 1994
Müller Max, Erinnerungen. Erlebte Psychiatriegeschichte 1920–1960, Berlin 1982
Reck, Hans-Ulrich, Szeemann, Harald (eds.), Junggesellenmaschinen, Erw. Neuausgabe der dt. Fassung des 1975 zur Ausstellung in der Kunsthalle Bern und der Biennale in Venedig etc. erschienenen Katalogs, Wien 1999
Saner, Gerhard, Friedrich Glauser. Eine Biografie, 2 vols., Frankfurt a.M. 198
Szeemann, Harald (ed.), documenta 5, Ausstellungskatalog, Kassel 1972