The Freud Museum
To step through the front door of 20 Maresfield Gardens in picturesque Hampstead is to enter another world. This world belongs to Sigmund Freud, and his daughter Anna, and their ground-breaking work in psychoanalysis.
Sigmund Freud and the story of psychoanalysis
“20 Maresfield Gardens… Our last address on this planet, and far too beautiful for us...” Sigmund Freud wrote on 22 August, 1938. In June, after months of nerve-wracking turmoil in Nazi Vienna, Freud and his family had finally managed to flee Austria. They were glad to escape with their lives. It was an unexpected blessing that virtually all their possessions could be sent after them. These included Freud’s prized collection of antiquities. ‘All the Egyptians, Chinese and Greeks have arrived, have stood up to the journey with little damage, and look more impressive here than in Berggasse,’ he wrote on 8 October. With the arrival of his antiquities, Freud’s new home was complete. This large brick house was a haven for the last year of his life. Here he was able to practise psychoanalysis, write and receive visitors until the last weeks of his life.
The heart of the house is Freud’s study and consulting room – recreated much it had been in Vienna. The room represents a fragment of the complex intellectual life of fin de siècle Vienna transported to London. Colourful oriental rugs cover the floor, tables and the psychoanalytic couch on which his patients told him their dreams. The bookshelves were brought from Berggasse, and the books reflect Freud’s professional studies – neurology, psychology and psychoanalysis – and also his passion for archaeology and anthropology. Antiquities fill cabinets and are arranged on every surface. These are among the varied raw materials which Freud’s intellect and imagination combined and transmuted into the basis of psychoanalysis.
Freud was born in 1856 in Moravia (now the Czech Republic), and the family later moved to Vienna where Freud studied medicine. In 1885, Freud went to study under the renowned neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot at the Salpêtrière, following which his interest turned towards psychopathology. On returning to Vienna, Freud established his professional practice, and, in 1900 published the groundbreaking work The Interpretation of Dreams.
Thirty years since its founding as a museum, the final home of the founder of psychoanalysis is far from being a static shrine. The cultural historian Marina Warner writes, ‘Sigmund Freud shaped the twentieth century idea of what a person is; we would not recognise ourselves without him. The Freud Museum is a vibrantly living organism; it continues to pulse to a lively current of problems and challenges. The Museum, through its collections, its programme of study and lectures and its imaginative contemporary art commissions, continues to invigorate the tradition with yet more stories, questions, ideas, from which we still take our bearings.’
Open: Wednesday – Sunday, 12noon – 5pm
Underground: Finchley Road, Swiss Cottage
Overground: Finchley Road and Frognal
Admission: adults £7 (£8 from 5 October 2016), senior citizens £5 (£6 from 5 October 2016), concessions £4, under 12’s free
Exhibitions and tours free with admission
Free Wi Fi