The inspiration behind the creation of this exhibition were the buildings of the former Mimco Branch Asylum / Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital (1890-1979) which now serve as Humber College’s Lakeshore Campus East. A defining feature of the institution in its early years of operation was its physical presence: a series of smaller buildings designed to break from the larger, imposing style of institution that was common of the nineteenth century, located at the edge of Lake Ontario on a property rich in gardens and naturalized spaces. The property itself was believed to play a key role in the treatment of those admitted as patients - but it was also these same individuals who were expected to perform the labour required to maintain the facility. The Hospital officially closed in 1979 as part of the first wave of the deinstitutionalization movement which shifted mental health care from an institutional to a community care model. The buildings that still stand today remind us of treatments past, but also of the cyclical nature of ideas.
In contemporary mental health care, elements of the old institutional model have resurfaced, echoing the original design discussions: mental health care centres today make use of natural light, individual rooms, and environments with perceptual cues that can include clear textures, objects, and lines. Even the role of particular colours in creating a healing or calming environment are being investigated within these spaces. Contemporary thoughts on mental health care have likewise stressed the benefits derived from nature, with gardens, in particular, being explored as therapeutic spaces.