Freud Museum London occupies a historic, 100-year-old mansion in scenic Hampstead where Sigmund Freud and his family lived after fleeing Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938. Visitors touring the home today will find it restored to appear just as it would have in Freud’s time. Highlights of the attraction include an art-filled dining room, idyllic garden, and Freud’s personal study, where visitors can behold his iconic psychoanalytic couch.
History of Freud Museum London
Sigmund Freud spend the majority of his life and career in Vienna, Austria. However, when the Nazis annexed Austria in March of 1938 he and his family fled to England, where they’d take refuge in the home where the Freud Museum is located today. A stately brick mansion designed in the Queen Anne Revival architectural style, the house dates to 1920 and is where Freud lived for approximately 18 months, until his death in September 1939. This home would remain the property of his family, though, until his youngest daughter, Anna, passed away in 1982.
It was Anna Freud, an acclaimed psychoanalyst in her own right, who stipulated that the property be transformed into a museum. Freud Museum London first opened in 1986; in the intervening years, it has promoted the legacies of both Sigmund and Anna Freud, preserved thousands of their papers and artifacts, and hosted scores of contemporary art exhibitions.
Freud Museum London Highlights
For many visitors, the biggest single highlight of their time at Freud Museum London is having the chance to stand before Freud’s famous psychoanalytic couch. This legendary piece of furniture was given to Freud by a patient around the year 1890; he would use it for the rest of his life, making certain that it was brought along with him when he fled Austria for England in 1938. Today it remains the centerpiece of his study, arguably the museum’s most memorable room.
Freud Museum London also contains a remarkable collection of Freud-related books, artifacts, and artwork; in total, the museum has some 1,600 of Freud’s books and over 2,000 objects once owned by Freud, many of them rare antiquities. As you move through the house—which is itself a striking structure—keep an eye out for such notable pieces as a second-century statue of Athena, an Ancient Egyptian figurine of Isis and Horus, and a metal porcupine figure that was much loved by Freud.
In addition to housing its significant permanent collection, archives, and research library, Freud Museum London stages multiple special exhibitions each year. These thought-provoking shows cover a host of different topics, with recent exhibitions including Lucian Freud: The Painter and his Family, a career-spanning retrospective of the artist on the occasion of what would have been his 100th birthday; Freud’s Antiquity: Object, Idea, Desire, which explored the influence of antiquities on Freud’s work; and Freud and China, an exhibition that examined Freud’s relationship to the culture and history of China.
More to See and Do at Freud Museum London
Freud Museum London has been charming guests for approximately 40 years now. Here are some additional things to see, do, and consider as you plan your visit.
*Each visitor to Freud Museum London receives access to a complimentary audio guide as part of their admission. The audio guide may be listened to on your smart phone; however, the museum kindly requests you bring along your own headphones.
*Freud Museum London has a small shop where you’ll find a wide range of potential gifts and souvenirs. From high-end replicas of artworks that were once in Freud’s possession to books by or about Freud, right alongside a nice selection of coffee mugs, coasters, t-shirts, toys, and jewelry, this well-curated shop has the perfect item for the Freud aficionado in your life.
*A variety of guided tours are available at Freud Museum London. A weekly tour led by the museum’s director runs every Thursday afternoon at 2:00pm, while a number of themed tours take place periodically, too; each one of these informative sessions typically lasts about 30 minutes. For more information, visit the Freud Museum London official website.
*Freud Museum London doesn’t have its own café or restaurant, but bottles of water and caffeinated beverages like tea and coffee may be purchased here.
*A bronze sculpture of Sigmund Freud, by the sculptor Oscar Nemon, can be viewed just a five-minute-walk around the block from the museum, at the corner of Fitzjohn’s Avenue and Belsize Lane.
Why Freud Museum London Should Be on Your Must-See List
When compiling their list of must-see London attractions or guided tours, far too many visitors overlook the Freud Museum; if you’ve got some extra time in your schedule and you’d love an excuse to venture a bit outside the heart of central London into scenic Hampstead, then you’d be wise to avoid making the same mistake. Not only is Freud Museum London located within a lovely mansion full of unforgettable artifacts, but it’s nicely situated near beautiful Hampstead Heath and popular area attractions like Keats House, Kenwood House, and Fenton House.