Museo della Follia

Museo della Follia information

Venice , Italy
Address
Street Isola di San Servolo
Telephone
+390 41 524 011 914
Getting there
ferry San Servolo
More information
www.coopculture.it
Prices
adult/reduced €3/2
Opening hours
phone bookings 9.30am-5.30pm Mon-Thu, to 3pm Fri
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Lonely Planet review

As well as a poignant photographic collection displaying portraits of patients before and after treatment, San Servolo’s Museo della Follia contains the full paraphernalia of psychiatric treatment of the day, including chains, handcuffs, cages for ice showers, early electro-therapy machines and a rare plethysmograph (the precursor of the lie detector).

The tour also takes in the reconstructed anatomy theatre beside the church and the ancient pharmacy. For centuries many of Venice’s medicines were concocted here – including various ‘cures’ for syphilis, a common cause of mental-health problems, even after the discovery of penicillin. Since most penicillin in Italy was set aside for the military well into the 20th century, it remained a sought-after street drug.