Freud Museum in London
The Freud Museum, at 20 Maresfield Gardens in Hampstead, was the home of Sigmund Freud and his family when they escaped Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938. It remained the family home until Anna Freud, the youngest daughter, died in 1982. The centrepiece of the museum is Freud's study, preserved just as it was during his lifetime. The Freud Museum commemorates and elucidates the work of Sigmund and Anna Freud and maintains their working environment.
The museum is open to the public Wednesday to Sunday, 12:00 - 17:00. It also organizes research and publication programmes and it has an education service which organizes seminars, conferences and special visits to the museum. The museum is a member of the London Museums of Health & Medicine.
There are two other Freud Museums, one in Vienna (see here), and another which has recently opened in Příbor, the Czech Republic, in the house where Sigmund Freud was born. The latter was opened by president Václav Klaus and four of Freuďs great-grandsons.
In 1938, the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, left Vienna after the Nazi annexation of Austria (the Anschluss) and moved to London, taking up residence at 20 Maresfield Gardens in Hampstead, one of London's suburbs. The house had only finished being built in 1920 in the Queen Anne Style. A small sun room in a modern style was added at the rear by Ernst Ludwig Freud that same year. Freud was over eighty at this time, and he died the following year, but the house remained in his family until his youngest daughter Anna Freud, who was a pioneer of child therapy, died in 1982.
The Freuds were able to move all of their furniture and household effects to London. The star exhibit in the museum is Freud's psychoanalytic couch. There are also Biedermeier chests, tables and cupboards, and a collection of 18th century and 19th century Austrian painted country furniture. The museum owns Freud's collection of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Oriental antiquities, and his reference library. The collection includes a portrait of Freud by Salvador Dalí.
The study and library were preserved by Anna Freud after her father's death. The bookshelf behind Freud's desk contains some of his favourite authors: not only Goethe and Shakespeare but also Heine, Multatuli and Anatole France. Freud acknowledged that poets and philosophers had gained insights into the unconscious which psychoanalysis sought to explain systematically. In addition to the books, the library contains various pictures hung as Freud arranged them; these include 'Oedipus and the Riddle of the Sphinx' and 'The Lesson of Dr Charcot' plus photographs of Martha Freud, Lou Andreas-Salomé, Yvette Guilbert, Marie Bonaparte, and Ernst von Fleischl.
The room contains the original analytic couch brought from Berggasse 19 on which patients would recline comfortably while Freud, out of sight in the green tub chair, listened to their 'free association.' They were asked to say everything that came to mind without consciously sifting or selecting information. This method became a foundation upon which psychoanalysis was built.
The Study is filled with antiquities from ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and the Orient. Freud visited many archaeological sites (though not Egypt) but most of the collection was acquired from dealers in Vienna. He confessed that his passion for collecting was second in intensity only to his addiction to cigars. Yet the importance of the collection is also evident in Freud's use of archaeology as a metaphor for psychoanalysis. One example of this is Freud's explanation to a patient that conscious material 'wears away' while what is unconscious is relatively unchanging: "I illustrated my remarks by pointing to the antique objects about my room. They were, in fact, I said, only objects found in a tomb, and their burial had been their preservation."
There is a temporary exhibitions room which hosts alternate contemporary art and Freud themed exhibitions. Art installations often use several rooms within the museum, such as Uli Eigne’s notable exhibition A Visit to Freud’s. A full list of past and forthcoming exhibitions can be found here.
When Freud wrote “We have it incomparably better than at Berggasse and even than Grinzing”, he wasn’t just comparing favourably the spacious rooms with large windows to the dark small apartments in Vienna. Both Sigmund and Anna Freud loved the garden, which is still meticulously maintained, and contains many of the same plants of which Freud was so fond. The garden’s alterations with the changing seasons, reflected his own interests and stages in life, as did the classical artefacts Dr Freud had on his desk.
The garden today is largely as Freud would have known it, from the terracotta flower pot, containing a red geranium (with Anna Freud’s trowel still beside it) to the circular flower bed to the right of the garden and the curved bench and tables on the shaded left-hand side of the garden. The large pine tree at the rear of the garden, was knee-height when Anna Freud first had it planted and the roses, clematis, hortense, plum and almond trees are all original plants from the time of the Freuds first coming to live at Maresfield Gardens.
The Freud Museum is situated at 20 Maresfield Gardens in Hampstead, London.
By Underground Take the Jubilee Line or Metropolitan Line to Finchley Road station (please note that this station is in Zone 2). On leaving the station cross Finchley Road and turn right. At Natwest Bank turn left up Trinity Walk. At the top of this path is Maresfield Gardens.
By car From Central London follow the Finchley Road (A41) north as far as Swiss Cottage. At the Swiss Cottage intersection, follow the sign to Hampstead. This takes you up Fitzjohns Avenue. After the traffic lights at Swiss Cottage, take the 3rd turning on your left into Nutley Terrace. Maresfield Gardens is the first left off this road.
- Official website of the Freud Museum (London)
- Official website of the Freud Museum (Vienna)
- Pribor, Czech Republic website about Sigmund Freud and information about the museum
- Sigmund Freud official website birthplace (PRIBOR)