AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Health and Human Services Commission preserved the history of Austin State Hospital as it undergoes construction after excavating more than 6,500 artifacts found on-site.
HHSC said the artifacts would be displayed at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin from June through Oct.
The display highlights the evolution of the state hospital system, including an “Austin State Hospital” sign from 1925, which marked the year the hospital’s name was changed from “Texas State Lunatic Asylum.”
Some of the artifacts showcase the self-sufficiency of the hospital, such as farming tools, industrial sewing machines and porcelain buttons. Other artifacts give perspective about life inside the hospital, including game pieces like marbles, board game markers and checkers pieces.
“As we continue to discover these precious artifacts, we’re getting some unique insight into how psychiatric care has evolved over the past century in Texas,” Scott Schalchlin, the HHSC deputy executive commissioner of the Health and Specialty Care System, said.
The transformation includes the construction of a replacement hospital that would have private rooms for each patient and 10 24-bed units. Each unit would have therapy rooms, classrooms, exercise rooms, an activity/multipurpose room and other therapy spaces.
The hospital originally opened in 1861, and the replacement hospital is expected to reopen in Nov. 2023.