Minnesota’s first state hospital focus of Treaty Site exhibit

ST. PETER — A new exhibit opening Saturday uses relics, photographs, storyboards and videos to describe the more than centurylong history of a local hospital for people with mental health problems.

“State of Mind: A History of Minnesota’s First State Hospital” will be on display for several months at Nicollet County Historical Society’s Treaty Site History Center on the north edge of St. Peter.

St. Peter is home to Minnesota Security Hospital, though the facility on the south edge of town has been called by many names since its founding in 1866.

Items in the exhibit represent key periods in the history of patient treatment and were gleaned from various sources by Beth Zabel, volunteer services coordinator, along with retired nurse executive Colleen Ryan, and volunteer Jana Haala. The trio was tasked with gathering items and gauging their value in telling the hospital’s story.

Many of the artifacts have been displayed in the hospital’s museum; however, because appointments are necessary to view the on-campus collection, the history center exhibit promises more ready access.

Several items in “State of Mind” have not previously been available for public view.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services oversees the exhibit focusing on Minnesota Security Hospital, which was the first (and for a long time, only) facility on the campus in St. Peter, a DHS spokesperson said.

Over time, the campus became home to other programs, too.

DHS operates all of the programs on what is commonly known as the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center campus. Today, the St. Peter campus is home to the Minnesota Security Hospital, Transition Services, the Forensic Nursing Home and the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.

DHS and the Treaty Site History Center will offer several educational events in connection with the “State of Mind” exhibit. The programs are still in development, When plans are set, program details will be published on the Treaty Site website.