NB: at the time of writing, the Sigmund Freud Museum has closed for refurbishment until late summer 2020
- All things Freud in his former apartment and surgery
- Plenty of original documents, photos and furniture
- Some excellent psychology-themed souvenirs in the shop
- See also: The Jewish Museum
Freud in Vienna
So. Are you lying comfortably? Excellent. Now…tell me about your childhood. So begins any article with even a vague connection to Sigmund Freud. Including this one…
Freud introduced the idea of the psychiatrist’s couch. And, if you visit house No.19 on Vienna’s Berggasse, you can stand in the very room that this “first couch” was used.
Unfortunately, the couch itself – a gift from a patient – is elsewhere having joined Freud when he fled Nazi-run Vienna for London. But there’s plenty else to interest the visitor to the Sigmund Freud Museum.
The location is the very apartment that Freud lived in with his wife, Martha, his kids, and his sister-in-law between 1891 and 1938.
Freud received his patients here, too. Surgery hours were 5 to 7 and 8 to 9, which left plenty of time for
buying groceries, smoking cigars and writing, two tasks the father of psychoanalysis regarded as inseparable.
(Given the volume of writing Freud produced, he must have single-handedly kept the Viennese cigar industry in business.)
The museum is obviously a must for those with an interest in psychology and psychiatry. But you also get a feel for the intellectual life of late 19th and early 20th century Vienna, spanning a world war and the end of the Habsburg monarchy.
You can slip through the museum in no time at all and it is kind of “cool” (not a word Freud would appreciate, I’m sure) to imagine being in the exact same place as this historical figure and his patients so many years ago.
Perhaps the most iconic moment of your museum visit is before you even get inside.
You have to ring the bell – marked “Prof. Dr. Freud” – on the unassuming door to the museum to gain access. It’s hard not to feel a tiny thrill when you do that.
Inside the museum proper, the hall is more or less in its original state. By the entrance door you’ll find an Art Nouveau ashtray, a reminder of Freud’s ultimate demise through smoking-induced cancer. Some personal belongings are also on display.
Next is the waiting room with its original furniture. Whatever your interest (or not) in Freud or his work, he’s an icon of the modern world. So it’s quite thrilling to see the actual sofa that people sat on before going through for treatment.
Each photo, painting or honorary degree on the walls has a number so you can read up about it in your guidebook. Many descriptions include relevant quotes offering insights into Freud’s thoughts, hopes and irritations.
Be sure to check photo 2 – Freud with the almost-as-famous Swiss psychiatrist Jung – and photo 28 of Einstein (a friend).
The consulting room and subsequent study are pretty bare of furniture but the walls trace the story of his life, work and prodigious output with a myriad of documents and photos.
See, for example, a school report with good grades across the board (swot), family portraits, scientific papers (including one on cocaine), books and letters.
The remaining rooms are dedicated to special exhibitions. When I was there, it was on the topic of women in psychoanalysis, recognising the role played by women as patients and analysts in developing this field (some were both). Freud’s daughter, Anna, was herself a renowned name in child analysis.
Tickets & visitor tips
(I’ll update the below once the new museum opens.)
At the time of my visit (before the refurbishment), the museum cost €9 for adults with free entry for those with a Vienna Pass. Some tips:
- Since the entire museum is obviously the size of a single apartment, albeit a large one, there’s not a lot of space. So it’s probably best to avoid the weekend crowds – the museum can even be closed temporarily if it gets too full.
- The entrance is up the stairs on the first floor of the house through a very normal Viennese apartment door.
- Buy your ticket inside and pick up an audio guide – available in various languages – before going through to the small shop.
- The shop is mostly books but you can buy postcards, posters and little souvenirs, too.
I bought an eraser marked “repression” (nice). There’s even a Sigmund Freud action figure in case the little ones want to play cops and psychoanalysts (and who hasn’t done that in their youth?).
- In the little anteroom beyond make sure you pick up a guidebook – also available in multiple languages – you will need it.
How to get to the Freud Museum
Subway: take the U2 line to Schottentor (short walk required)
Tram/bus: take the D to Schlickgasse or the 37, 38, 40, 41 or 42 trams to Schwarzspanierstraße (also short walk required). The 40A bus has a stop on Berggasse helpfully called, cough, Berggasse
Address: Berggasse 19, 1090 Vienna | Website