The Pennhurst Asylum in Spring City offers a lot of fun and good scares during the Halloween season, but it also raises ethical questions about the reuse of historical institutions in such a way, writes Erin McCarthy for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Kelly George, an assistant professor of media and communication at Immaculata University, has researched the ethical reuse of historical asylums like Pennhurst. She said it is important to make guests aware of the history of these places to ensure hurtful stereotypes are not being perpetuated.
Pennhurst has taken these comments to heart and has been trying to better communicate its history recently. The institution’s museum has been expanded, and all visitors walk through this before they leave the property.
Pennhurst has also added daytime history tours from the perspective of those who lived and worked there.
“We wanted to put a big stop to anyone confusing the seasonal attraction with the history of the site,” said operations manager Jim Werner.
Pennhurst was originally the Eastern Pennsylvania Institution for the Feeble Minded and Epileptic, where people with disabilities were abused and neglected for nearly eight decades.
Read more about Pennhurst in The Philadelphia Inquirer here.