The Museum as a Place of Experience

For the first time, the new museum concept allows visitors access to the Freud family’s private rooms. These rooms give an insight into the family’s eventful history and tell the story of the everyday life of a Viennese family at the turn of the century, putting Freud’s work in the social context of his day.
In Freud’s psychoanalytic practice rooms the original furnishings of the waiting room give visitors a sense of the atmosphere of a 19th-century interior that is so characteristic of Vienna. The presentation in his study focuses on the formation of psychoanalytic theory and Freud’s writings on cultural theory. The display recalls his wide-ranging correspondence with colleagues, friends and patients, comprising a total of almost 20,000 letters.
The rooms in which Anna Freud had her own psychoanalytic office for adults and, above all, children since the beginning of the 1920s are used to showcase her seminal work in theory and practice.
In Freud’s treatment room we deal with core aspects of the psychoanalytic treatment method and practice. The empty space left behind by the absence of the couch in this room plays a special role in the new permanent exhibition: the absence of this piece of furniture, that has meanwhile become an icon of psychoanalysis, characterises the Museum as a vestigial memory space and is a symbol of the losses written in our history: Freud’s flight from the Nazis stands pars pro toto for millions of refugees and murdered people.
Freud’s “first office” on the upper ground floor at Berggasse 19, where he treated patients such as “Dora” between 1896 and 1908, is also where the “father of psychoanalysis” wrote the central works in the formative phase of his science such as The Interpretation of Dreams or Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. Here, a selection of works from the contemporary conceptual art collection of the Sigmund Freud Museum—including pieces by Pier Paolo Calzolari, Joseph Kosuth, Franz West, Heimo Zobernig, Sherrie Levine and Georg Herold—will help illuminate key aspects of psychoanalysis and the history of its effects in the sphere of art production.

The aim of the new concept is to explore the former importance and function of the historic rooms at Berggasse 19. Modern educational instruments ensure appropriate presentation and critical examination of the many different aspects associated with this culturally significant place for a wide public. This includes depicting the historical development of psychoanalysis as the science of the unconscious and its near extinction under Nazi rule and surveying its relevance for, and impact on, society today.