The real tour guide of the museum is Bolek Greczynski, the founder and director of the Living Museum, a hospital employee who also happens to be the museum's curator, artist-in-residence and maintenance man. In 1984, Bolek (who is known by his first name), along with his friend Janos Marton, a psychologist at the Psychiatric Center, conceived the idea of setting up an art program for hospital residents in the huge abandoned kitchen building.
Not only does it receive all of its funding and institutional support from Creedmoor, but all the artists (except for Bolek) use the hospital's services. According to Charlotte Seltzer, Creedmoor's director, Creedmoor has changed quite a bit since the mid-1970s when it earned its reputation as an institutional nightmare.
Though still considered as the largest psychiatric hospital in New York City, Creedmoor has shrunk in the last three decades to one fifth its former patient population. At its height, Creedmoor had more than 7,000 patients.
Structured craft and expressive art activities both have a place in treatment of mental health disorders. In structured crafts, the limits of repetitive and predictive project can offer reassurance to the fearful person and help contain anxiety. Patients seem to prefer projects with true boundaries, such as plastic "stained glass", sophisticated colored sheets, and mosaics. Completing these tasks successfully also provides a sense of mastery through accomplishment and increases patients' perceived sense of effectiveness.
The more expressive artwork may offer a release of tensions through physical activity, such as ripping paper or using a stippling brush for painting de ...