The Criminal Asylum
How has society treated people who are considered both dangerous criminals and mentally ill? The exhibit in the Criminal Asylum looks at the history of high-security psychiatric institutions with a focus on Norway’s first such institution established here in 1895.
How has society’s need for safety been negotiated in relation to the rights of individuals?
You can visit the patients’ cells and learn about life at the Criminal Asylum and Reitgjerdet, a similar institution in Trondheim established in 1923 under the same leadership.
It is an ancient principle that people who are incapable of understanding reality should be judged less harshly. Even though the Criminal Asylum was meant to be a hospital, it was primarily a high-security institution. The exhibit looks at how society has balanced the need to security with the individual’s rights and needs throughout history.
The majority of serious crimes are committed by sane individuals. It’s rare that people with mental illnesses are a danger to others. This exhibit looks at a small group of people society has difficulty regulating through law.
The exhibit can be found on the ground floor of the eastern wing of the old Criminal Asylum.