The Prinzhorn Collection shows works created by patients in psychiatric institutions.
The works were collected by Hans Prinzhorn, a physician and art historian, from 1919 to 1921. The Prinzhorn collection includes about 5000 works, the majority of which are pencil or coloured pencil drawings, as well as paintings with watercolours or oils, textiles, and wooden sculptures. 435 patients/artists, men, and women are represented in the collection. They were mostly hospitalized in institutions in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, mostly diagnosed with schizophrenia.
The works reflect different social backgrounds and the education of their authors. They reveal - often in fragmented or alienated form - contemporary history and its ideologies, but also individual life before the illness as well as the deforming institutionalization.
Only a few patients had professional artistic training. Often, however, they had come into contact with creative practice through school or professional training and activities in the arts and crafts, architecture, or technical professions. The way they deal with this 'previous knowledge' varies, ranging from careful reproduction of what they have learned to free variation or complete detachment from it.
A smaller but significant part of the collection captivates through the use of idiosyncratic artistic means and unusual but coherent formal solutions that hold a meaning of their own. They belong to the narrower field of art.
Permanent exhibition "The Prinzhorn Collection - from 'Mad Art' to Outsider Art"
For the first time, the Prinzhorn Collection Museum is presenting a permanent exhibition in addition to its special exhibitions. Entitled "The Prinzhorn Collection - from 'Lunatic Art' to Outsider Art," it features some 120 works from a psychiatric context from the mid-19th century to the present day, providing a small glimpse into the 27,000-work collection. The permanent exhibition spans one of the cabinets as well as three exhibition rooms and a media room, which are lined up to the east of the hall in Enfilade. Also included in the concept are the foyer and the low first floor. The space for the additional presentation areas was created from September 2019 to June 2020 by remodelling office space in the small former auditorium building, which has served as a museum for the collection since 2001. The conversion and design of the new exhibition were financed by the state of Baden-Württemberg, the city of Heidelberg, the Schaller-Nikolich Foundation, and the H + G BANK Foundation. The measures now taken are part of a larger structural expansion. The museum and its circle of friends are working together with the IBA Heidelberg on a redesign of the entire museum complex, which is to be completed by 2025.