In real life the institution was Oregon State Hospital and the article is accompanied by a slide show of images from the hospital and museum.
The piece also mentions some fascinating facts about the film – not least that some of the actors were actually genuine employees and patients in the hospital.
But the melding of real life and art went far beyond the film set. Take the character of John Spivey, a doctor who ministers to Jack Nicholson’s doomed insurrectionist character, Randle McMurphy. Dr. Spivey was played by Dr. Dean Brooks, the real hospital’s superintendent at the time.
Dr. Brooks read for the role, he said, and threw the script to the floor, calling it unrealistic — a tirade that apparently impressed the director, Milos Forman. Mr. Forman ultimately offered him the part, Dr. Brooks said, and told the doctor-turned-actor to rewrite his lines to make them medically correct. Other hospital staff members and patients had walk-on roles.
Link to NYT article ‘Once a ‘Cuckoo’s Nest,’ Now a Museum’.