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The Freud Museum

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by Sandra Lawson (subscribe)
To paraphrase Dorothy: 'There is no place like London.' I hope I can convince you of that here. Also check out my blog at damselwithadulcimer.wordpress.com and my theatre reviews at www.playstosee.com
Published March 31st 2012
The Freud Museum London
Outside the Freud Museum


When the Germans annexed Austria in 1938, Sigmund Freud and his family were forced to flee their Viennese home. They settled at 20 Maresfield Gardens in Hampstead, where he died the following year, and where Anna remained until her death in 1982.

Most of Freud's furniture and books were shipped to Hampstead to recreate his Study and Library. The English counterpart of his Austrian home is lined with his bookshelves and filled with his huge and eclectic volumes of books and vast range of antiquities. He maintained a lifelong interest in collecting antiquities and equated the archaeological digging through layers of time with the uncovering of memories that took place during psychoanalysis. He was the first analyst to use a couch and this, as well as his desk, are focal points of the room.

The Freud Museum London
Freud's Couch


Upstairs on the landing you can see more works of art and antiquities and can explore the Anna Freud Room. This area of the house is also lined with books, as well as family photos, the many certificates and diplomas that were awarded to her, and the weaving loom that she used during analysis. Most interesting of all are the video presentations you can watch in this room. These contain Freud family movies of the years spent in Austria and in transit to London. They also feature several family members, including a young Lucian Freud, as well as the family's pet dogs. You can also watch information on Freud's original Study in Berggasse 19.

The Freud Museum London
Freud's Desk


This house in a north west London suburb must have seemed like another world to the Freuds after the Nazi annexation of their homeland and the anti-Semitism they encountered there. It is very much a family home, but is also The Freud Museum. It is used for educational visits and by researchers delving into psychoanalysis and the lives of Anna and Sigmund Freud, as well as being a centre for events, conferences and exhibitions. Currently there is an exhibition of some of the works of Louise Bourgeois, The Return of the Repressed.

The Freud Museum London
Freud's Study


There is also a well-stocked shop where you can purchase books written by and about Freud. This shop is located in the Conservatory and has a roof designed by Freud's son Ernst. It leads out to an attractive and well-kept garden, where visitors are free to sit and enjoy a hot or a cold drink.

The staff are helpful and extremely knowledgeable. Alex Bento, whose job is Front of House and Maintenance, was happy to chat about the house, where he has worked for the last thirty years, and where he lives. I could think of worse jobs.

The Freud Museum is a short walk (uphill) from Finchley Road Tube Station and is reached by bus routes 13, 82, 113, 187 and 268.
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Why? To learn a little about the origins of psychoanalysis
When: Wednesday 12.00 - 16.00, Thursday and Friday 12.00 - 17.00, Saturday and Sunday 11.00 - 17.00
Where: 20 Maresfield Gardens, London NW3 5SX
Cost: 6, plus concessions
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