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May 06, 2021

The Connecticut Historical Society to present: Common Struggle, Individual Experience: An Exhibition About Mental Health



NEWS RELEASE                                





The Connecticut Historical Society to present:

Common Struggle, Individual Experience: An Exhibition About Mental Health 

November 12, 2021 – October 15, 2022 


HARTFORD, CT – To kick off Mental Health Awareness Month, The Connecticut Historical Society (CHS) announces a groundbreaking exhibition to open later this year. Common Struggle, Individual Experience: An Exhibition About Mental Health will explore the history of mental healthcare in Connecticut, and personal mental health challenges experienced by Connecticans in the past and today. The exhibition will be on display at the CHS (One Elizabeth Street, Hartford) from November 12, 2021 through October 15, 2022. 

Inspired by the upcoming bicentennial of the Institute of Living in 2022, the CHS partnered with mental health medical professionals, mental health not-for-profit leaders, mental health historians, and members of the public over the past two years to develop the exhibition’s themes and key stories. Using historical objects such as letters from as early as the 1700s, photographs from the 1800s, and video interviews conducted in 2020, the exhibition shares both historic experiences and today’s perspectives on how society sought and continues to seek care for the mind.

The exhibition portrays how mental health and mental illness have been defined differently over time and how people have faced the challenges of finding and securing mental health treatment. As the exhibition links contemporary issues with the past, a section using content from video interviews the CHS conducted in 2020 will be devoted to the impact of the COVID pandemic on Connectican’s mental health.

Executive Director and CEO Robert Kret believes that this exhibition brings an opportunity to expand the conversation around mental health and its integral place in our lives: 

Many people are intimately affected by and interested in mental health. Others may have little direct experience with mental health challenges, but may know someone who is struggling, or want to understand more about this frequent news topic. At the same time, mental health has long been a topic that is overlooked or stigmatized. However, when you begin to have honest conversations, it becomes clear that our stories unite us in ways we may never have realized. 

“History and cultural institutions are serving as resources for the community in ways that you might not expect. In addition to preserving and presenting the history of Connecticut, we hope to provide a space for dialogue for the community. This is an opportunity for the CHS to be viewed as a safe space, a resource, and to encourage productive conversations around mental health.”

In planning this exhibition, many people from across the state commented about the importance of sharing their personal experiences and the challenges to normalizing discussions about mental health. The CHS is in a unique position to highlight experiences of those in the past—using artifacts, images, and documents from its collection—alongside stories and perspectives of people today. One desired outcome is that visitors to the exhibition will develop empathy for others, understand that their personal experiences may be unique but are not isolated in time or space, and feel an increased comfort level with talking about mental health.

Programming centered on this exhibition will be offered, with the most up-to-date information found at Museum hours are Tuesday-Friday 12:00pm – 5:00pm and Saturday 9:00am-5:00pm. The health and safety of visitors and staff is of utmost priority, and COVID-19 protocols are in place to maximize safety and enjoyment of exhibitions and programs. This includes, but is not limited to: limited visitor capacity, facemask requirements, increased cleaning, and more. For additional information on the CHS COVID-19 health and safety protocols, visit

Support for this exhibition and related programming is provided by RMC Investment Advisors, Stanley Black & Decker, the Ensworth Charitable Trust, The Siemon Company and “one of the many CHS members who understand and care.” Planning support was provided by CT Humanities.

The Connecticut Historical Society ( is a privately funded, independent, not-for-profit educational organization that includes a museum, library, the Edgar F. Waterman Research Center, and the Connecticut Cultural Heritage Arts Program. Founded in 1825, the CHS is Connecticut’s statewide historical society, and a Smithsonian Affiliate. At the CHS, we cultivate understanding of the history and culture of Connecticut, and its role in the United States and the world. Through our collections, research, educational programs, and exhibitions we reflect the past, actively engage with the present, and innovate for the future.


Contact: Marissa Baum

Marketing and Communications Manager



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