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    At the former Oregon State Insane Asylum, between 1883 and 1970, thousands of people died while they were in the hospital. If a person's body was not claimed by their families, their cremated ashes were sealed in a labeled canister and stored at the hospital. "On my first visit to the hospital, I am escorted to a decaying outbuilding, where a dusty room lined with simple pine shelves is lined three-deep with thousands of copper canisters." David Maisel (photo also courtesy of David Maisel)

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    • elle emme

      David Maisel's Library of Dust depicts individual copper canisters, each containing the cremated remains of patient from a state-run psychiatric hospital. The patients died at the hospital between 1883 (the year the facility opened, when it was called the Oregon State Insane Asylum) and the 1970’s; their bodies have remained unclaimed by their families.

    • Kathy Brown

      At the former Oregon State Insane Asylum, between 1883 and 1970, thousands of people died while they were in the hospital. If a person's body was not claimed by their families, their cremated ashes were sealed in a labeled canister and stored at the hospital. "On my first visit to the hospital, I am escorted to a decaying outbuilding, where a dusty room lined with simple pine shelves is lined three-deep with thousands of copper canisters." David Maisel

    • Aunt Ruth

      [photographs by David Maisel] At the former Oregon State Insane Asylum, between 1883 and the 1970's, thousands of people died while they were in the hospital. If a person's body was not claimed by their families, their cremated ashes were sealed in a labeled cannister and stored at the hospital. "On my first visit to the hospital, I am escorted to a decaying outbuilding, where a dusty room lined with simple pine shelves is lined three-deep with thousands of copper canisters. Prisoners from the local penitentiary are brought in to clean the adjacent hallway, crematorium, and autopsy room. A young male prisoner in a blue uniform, with his feet planted firmly outside the doorway, leans his upper body into the room, scans the cremated remains, and whispers in a low tone, "The library of dust.”

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