“Sometimes a cigar is only a cigar” declared Freud famously. Well maybe he did, the museum freely admits it has no idea how it became attributed to him. It probably has it’s roots in Freud’s cigar smoking habit and his tendency to see hidden meanings in things. I wonder if he ever shopped here?
Freud and his family came to London to escape persecution from the Nazis after Austria was annexed by Germany. For the last year of his life, the father of Psychoanalysis lived at 20 Maresfield Gardens, London (around the corner from Finchley Road tube in case you fancy a visit). The house remained in the Freud family- his daughter Anna lived there. She wanted the house to become a museum after she died, and The Freud Museum opened to the public in 1986.
In Sigmund’s study you can see what is arguably the most famous piece of furniture; Freud’s original analytic couch from Berggasse 19, his home in Vienna.
Patients would make themselves comfortable whilst Freud would sit in the green chair, recording their thoughts as they said anything that came to mind – known as ‘free association’. Apparently he chose to sit in the green chair rather than at his desk because he didn’t want people looking at him all day…
Looking around the study, you can see the antiquities Freud collected from archaeological sites in Greece and Rome Some even came from Egypt and the Orient. Unsurprisingly, sphinxes are a common theme in his collection, (how many can you count? Extra points for differentiating between the Greek and Egyptian ones!) Freud’s study reminded me a lot of the John Soane Museum with every available space crammed full of stuff!
The museum still has the feel of a family home, with some really personal artefacts on display like Freud’s wedding ring and glasses. The story of the family is told, rather than the story of psychoanalysis.
If you enjoyed reading about the Freud Museum, you might enjoy reading about the badges I picked up there in the Museum of Museum Badges.