This Is the Number One Most Terrifying Museum in the World 

Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash
Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash | © Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash

Social Media Editor

There are no Renaissance paintings or marble sculptures in this museum. Every single piece of art in here has a devastating past and it would be difficult to leave without getting chills. This spooky spot is a former working mental institution and now the number one most terrifying museum in the world.

Loved by over 40s

We are talking about the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St Joseph, Missouri, once known and operating as the State Lunatic Asylum No. 2. This place was a proper psychiatric hospital and the things that went on there are just as scary as you can possibly imagine.

Installation depicting hydrotherapy treatment

The Glore’s purpose is to showcase the building’s 130-year stint as government-run mental institution and through that history, beginning in 1874, the evolution and progression of the treatment of mental illness in the US. Sadly, mental health was not always something tackled with sensitivity; much of its history is morally cloudy and the museum is a prime example of this.

The museum takes its name from George Glore, who spent 41 years working for the Missouri Department of Mental Health. Glore was an avid student of history and hence created a program at the asylum where patients created art installations replicating 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century mental health treatment devices. One could argue that asking mentally ill people to recreate the oft torturous mechanisms once used to ‘treat’ them is anything but kosher, but this is what Glore did and what the museum now showcases. It is also part of what makes it the creepiest museum on the planet.

An embroidery serving as therapy for patients with schizophrenia

In time, the state asked Glore to expand his programme, calling on the patients to make their own independent artistic creations as a form of therapy, and a combination of both these things, plus actual treatment mechanisms, make up the bulk of the institution’s unusual collection.

The original asylum building is now part of the city’s prison, but a more recent section of the asylum, including a once fully operational morgue, houses the museum and its contents.

An electroencephalograph machine from the 1960’s used to record brain activity

Some of the particularly saddening items on view include lobotomy instruments, the devastating tools used in the 1940s and 50s to incise and scrape the prefrontal lobe of the brain in the surgical ‘treatment’ for mental illness. The procedure, which was very often performed without patient consent, was meant to calm the mind, but really ended leaving patients a fraction of their former selves, taking them back to infant stage.

Other torturous devices include a wooden chamber called The Wheel, which was basically a treadmill surrounded by walls upon which patients were locked by doctors, and the infamous Tranquilliser Chair.

The Wheel

There are also paintings and more traditional forms of art made by the patients in their art therapy programme. What is perhaps the most thought-inducing display on show is a mosaic made up of 1,446 safety pins, buttons, nails and other non-edible objects all removed over time from the stomach of a female patient who suffered from a compulsive swallowing disorder called pica. The woman made the mosaic from all the objects, perhaps a full-circle therapeutic means to help deal with with the illness.

The study and treatment of mental illness has a dark past, and the Glore bravely puts this on display. It also reminds visitors that art can provide hope and healing. Nonetheless, it is a gloomy place, but gloom can be an incredible teacher and the lessons learned here are thought-provoking and important.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.