Patton State Hospital Museum

California’s first state psychiatric hospital museum!


The Patton State Hospital Museum examines the history of psychiatry and treatment of mental illness in California state-run facilities. The museum offers a glimpse of the evolution of the treatment of mental illness during the last 125 years.

Patton accepted its first patients on August 1, 1893. The museum, only the second of its kind west of the Mississippi River, features more than 140 items. Among the artifacts found in the museum are original medical and surgical equipment, firefighting equipment from the early part of the last century and nursing uniforms from the 1950s.

The museum itself is located on the grounds of the hospital in a 1920s cottage home that once was inhabited by hospital staff and their families.

Interested in a tour?

The museum was created through the volunteer efforts of hospital staff and with the assistance of museum studies’ students from California State University, San Bernardino. Because this museum is being operated and staffed with volunteers, we are only able to open it for visitors on a limited basis.

Sign up for a museum visit by email at . Please indicate in your email if you are alone or with a group and the number of people you expect to participate in the tour.

Due to a high volume of requests, it may take us a while to get back to you or your group about a tour.

Museum in the News

Patton museum welcomes visitors - July 7, 2016
Behind the scenes at Patton state hospital - January 6, 2016
Museum to open at former San Bernardino insane asylum - April 29, 2015
DSH-Patton Museum Article - March 2019

Artifacts at the Patton Hospital Museum

The 2,000 square feet of exhibits display only a portion of the artifacts collected by the facility over the years. But through these displays we hope to tell stories and honor the lives of the individuals who were our patients and our staff.

This fire hose wagon was considered state-of-the-art safety equipment in 1890. It is designed so that even one or two people could quickly bring it to the scene of a fire and could move it around. This equipment pre-dates the establishment of an actual fire department at the hospital.
This iron tub with a canvas cover was once used for hydrotherapy at Patton State Hospitals. Hydrotherapy was a popular practice at the beginning of the 20th century and involved soaking and relaxing in water.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) is the cornerstone of modern treatment of mental disorders. It is relied on universally in psychiatric treatment. Here is a collection of the first three editions published in 1952, 1968, and 1980.
A mid-20th century industrial sized toaster found at Patton State Hospital. This machine could produce 720 slices of toast per hour, which came in handy with a 1950s population of over 5,000.
Nurse Uniform
This is the uniform of a nurse at Patton State Hospital. It is the style that was worn by all female nurses from the 1940s to about 1960.
Entrance to Patton Museum
The front entrance to the Patton Hospital Museum features a rounded front doorway. These were popular features of the cottage homes like this one, built in 1923.
Patton Museum Plaque
The plaque on the front entrance of the Patton Hospital Museum reads, "Established to honor those men and women who have lived, worked, and received treatment at this institution; to reflect on the significant role it has played in the advancement of psychiatric treatment in California. Through this museum we will endeavor to honor the past, live in the present, and look to the future."
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DSH-Patton Information

Today, DSH-Patton continues to provide care to nearly 1,500 patients on a daily basis, one of the largest state hospitals in the country. The facility is operated by more than 2,400 staff who work with these patients each and every day.

Learn more about the Hospital!