The Austen Riggs Center to Open “The Hospital on Main Street: Human Dignity and Mental Health,” A Special Exhibition in Stockbridge, Massachusetts



                                         The Austen Riggs Center celebrates 100 years.

Public Opening Set for Sunday, May 26, 2019

Exhibition Chronicles 100 Years of Austen Riggs, Explores the History of Mental Health Treatment, 
and Aims to Help Diminish Stigma that Often Surrounds Mental Illness

Stockbridge, MA – April 30, 2019 – The Austen Riggs Center is proud to announce the new exhibition, “The Hospital on Main Street: Human Dignity and Mental Health,” over Memorial Day Weekend. The exhibition will be located in the newly renovated annex of the Old Corner House in Stockbridge, and chronicles the history of Riggs, from its founding by Dr. Austen Fox Riggs in 1919, to its current position as a leading psychiatric hospital and residential treatment center.

The official grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony, for invited guests, is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, May 25, 2019, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Old Corner House, 48 Main Street in Stockbridge, and will be hosted by Eric Plakun, MD, Medical Director and CEO, and members of the Riggs and Stockbridge communities. 

“For 100 years, our location on Main Street in Stockbridge has been crucial to the work we do with patients and in terms of our standing in the larger world of treatment for mental illness,” said Dr. Plakun, “Essential to our way of working with people with complex psychiatric problems is a focus on patients as people with competence and a voice worth hearing.”

“The ‘Hospital on Main Street’ exhibition celebrates our centennial and tells the story of the evolution of mental health care in the United States, the development of the Riggs model of treatment that seeks to decrease the stigma associated with mental illness, and advocates for a biopsychosocial approach to understanding and treating patients,” added Jane G. Tillman, PhD, Director of the Riggs Erikson Institute for Education and Research, and Project Director for Riggs centennial exhibitions.

The exhibition is structured to tell three key stories: 

  • The founding of the Austen Riggs Center and the larger historical context of mental health care in America
  • The development of a treatment model integrating principles of psychoanalysis and social learning in a therapeutic community
  • The partnership between Riggs and the local community, and Riggs’ commitment to education, training, research, and outreach.

The Austen Riggs Center to Open The Hospital on Main Street: Human Dignity and Mental Health A Special Exhibition in Stockbridge, MA. The permanent installation incorporates historic photographs, artifacts, and ephemera that span the 100-year history of Riggs, along with a video installation.

“The Hospital on Main Street” exhibition will be free and open to the public, following the grand opening event, on both Sunday, May 26 and Monday, May 27, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Throughout the summer and fall, the exhibition will be open Thursdays to Mondays (10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) and will be staffed by Riggs-trained docents.

The exhibition is designed by IKD, an award-winning architectural design firm based in Boston and San Francisco and led by founding partners Tomomi Itakura and Yugon Kim (http://i-k-design.com/).

The “Hospital on Main Street” exhibition team includes, Dan Cohen, Curator; Alison Lotto, Archivist; John Perkel, Chief Docent and Julia Thomas, Exhibition Coordinator.

For additional information about “The Hospital on Main Street” exhibition and other Riggs centennial events, please visit: www.austenriggs.org/100.

Additional Riggs Centennial Events and Exhibitions:

About the Austen Riggs Center

Celebrating its centennial year in 2019, the Austen Riggs Center, located in Stockbridge, MA, is a leading psychiatric hospital and residential treatment program that has been serving adults since its founding in 1919. Within an open setting, patients participate in an intensive treatment milieu that emphasizes respectful engagement. Individual psychodynamic psychotherapy is provided four times a week by doctors on staff. The Erikson Institute for Education and Research of the Austen Riggs Center studies individuals in their social contexts through research, training, education, and outreach programs in the local community and beyond. Riggs is ranked a top-ten “Best Hospital in Psychiatry” by U.S. News & World Report. For more information, visit www.austenriggs.org.


Contacts for event coverage, exhibition images, and additional information:

Aaron M. Beatty                                          Maurie Perl                                    Dan Scheffey
Riggs Communications Officer                   maurie@maurieperl.com               dan@scheffey.net
aaron.beatty@austenriggs.net                   (917) 678-8072                              (917) 647-7626

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