Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Center for the History of Psychology

CHP is located at the corner of College and Mill streets.

Local Museum, The Center for the History of Psychology
by Joanna Wilson

Looking for something different to do in Akron?  Consider exploring the gallery of a local museum--one I bet you didn't even know existed--The Center for the History of Psychology (CHP). 

Entrance to the permanent collection.

The interactive gallery space offers an interesting opportunity to experience the history of psychological principles, tests, mechanisms and devices.  The best thing about the self-guided tour is that each exhibit is clearly designed to show visitors how each piece in the collection is relevant to today's experiences.  I found this little-known museum to be very fascinating!

A guard's uniform on display at the museum--one used in the original Stanford Prison Experiment.

At the museum, you can see original costumes worn by the participants in the Stanford Prison Experiment where volunteers were asked to take on the roles of either prisoners or guards.  The results of this psychological test have been a part of the more recent discussions about Abu Ghraib. The collection also includes the electronic shock box from Stanley Milgram's experiments on obedience.  You may have heard of re-creations of this experiment that tests an individual's willingness to deliver a painful shock to someone else--as instructed by an authority figure.  This shock box and the Milgram experiments were the subject of a TV episode of History's Lost and Found on the History Channel in 2000--the segment can be seen on a video screen at the museum.

One of the many interactive exhibits at CHP--this one demonstrates the mosquito frequency that adults can't hear--but supposedly teenagers can!

There are also exhibits on handwriting analysis and attempts to use it to identify personality traits, and the doll studies done with African-American children--the results of which were used to help bring integration to public schools in the landmark court case Brown v. the Board of Education.  There is a B.F. Skinner box that was used to work with animals and an Aircrib intended to be used to incorporate Skinner's behavioral techniques for babies.  I even tested my own levels of hearing with the audio frequency display that demonstrates the controversial Mosquito Alarm, the deterrent that supposedly prevents teenagers from loitering in certain locations.  And, no--I couldn't hear it!

Self-guided tour means you can take your time to read and interact with each exhibit.  I imagine this would be an exciting afternoon for people to explore with their families or friends from out of town.

I didn't expect to connect with this museum as much as I did.  From pseudo-scientific mechanisms, to psychological tests performed by big businesses to an exhibit on the continuing evolution of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the ideas and tools in this collection are relevant to modern life and American culture.

This totem pole is a part of the Oelschlager Collection.

There's even a temporary exhibit space just as you enter the building.  They have a collection of Native American artifacts currently on display.  What can you learn about people from the past by examining their tools and art?  Come and find out for yourself.

CHP is open Monday-Friday: 10am-4pm, Saturdays noon-4pm.  Closed Sundays.  The gallery is always *FREE.*  The self-guided tour should take you approx. 1-2 hours.  I recommend it for adults and teens.

The Center for the History of Psychology
73 College St., Akron OH 44325

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