Activities of the informal association Madness on the border / Wahnsinn an der Grenze, established in 2013, resulted in the foundation of the Museum of Madness in 2014 as a private institute in Trate (northeastern Slovenia). The project was spurred by the sinister presence of the Cmurek Castle, which functioned as an institution for mentally disabled from 1956 till 2004. Nine years after its abandonment the castle became the nexus for a local Slovenian-Austrian initiative focused on a somewhat provocative re-evaluation of madness. The museum’s cultural and communal activities deal with the de-tabooisation and promote de-institutionalisation. With a substantial amount of voluntary work and the support from both neighbouring municipalities (Šentilj from the Slovenian and Mureck from the Austrian side), the institute has turned the castle into a unique venue.
The founders of the Museum of Madness have developed an innovative project connecting the Slovenian and Austrian communities, based on the local natural and cultural heritage (the Mura river biodiversity, the Cmurek and New Kinek castles as well as the defunct Hanson’s electric mill, built in 1912–1914). The museum collection and exhibition on the history of madness and deviation are under construction.
The Museum of Madness’ ambition is to become an international interdisciplinary centre “for cooperation and coordination of all agents whose work and lives are crossing the field of madness”.
The versatile bilingual programme has, among others, featured the production of Inside. The Last Noblemen of Trate documentary on the life and work in the Trate institution for mentally disabled and its final closing down, directed by Lukas Miheljak (AGRFT, 2014) that was screened at the Politization of Friendship exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova (MSUM), in the framework of the Madness in the Eighties: Anti-Psychiatry Movement in Slovenia project. The paraliterary I.D.I.O.T Group participated in the programme with a poetry workshop and public reading (2014), and a fine arts symposium Madness and Creativity?, conceived by Saša Bezjak and Anja Jerčič Jakob and curated by Petra Kapš took place in 2015. The Cmurek Castle has also become a regional venue for concerts (Seviqc Brežice Festival), book discussions, lectures, exhibitions (The Mysterious World of the Mura River), and so on.