Sigmund Freud Museum 2020
As of 2020, Sigmund Freud’s former place of work at Vienna’s Berggasse 19 is to be presented to the public in a form that does justice to the standards of this unique museum and scientific venue.
The plans include renovation of the façade from the Gründerzeit period at the beginning of the last century. The Museum’s courtyard will offer a quiet, shaded place in the style of the Viennese inner courtyards from the 19th century. By installing new cloakrooms and sanitary facilities it will be possible to cater for the basic needs of visitors to the Museum. The many visitors to the Sigmund Freud Museum will benefit from the Café on the ground floor.
In line with international museum standards, a lift will enable barrier-free access to the Museum, the library and its function room.
Contemporary museum interventions, combined with the largely preserved architecture of Freud’s living and working rooms, make the Museum a unique, multilayered experience: the former living rooms of the Freuds, open to the public for the first time, give insights into the family’s eventful history. Guests can visit the family’s private rooms and thus learn more about the Freuds’ day-to-day life.
In Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic office, the original furnishings of the waiting room take visitors on an atmospheric journey back in time to turn-of-the-century Vienna, allowing them to immerse themselves in the social context of Freud’s work. Themed displays are set up in Sigmund Freud’s treatment room and adjoining study, that, in connection with the historic fabric of the building, illustrate day-to-day therapy and methods of treatment along with the development of psychoanalytic theory. Without engaging in a historicising reenactment, the reorganisation of the Museum allows visitors to explore the one-time importance and function of these premises with their special aura.
The empty space created by the absence of the couch in Freud’s former treatment room plays a special role in the new permanent exhibition. This missing iconic piece of furniture distinguishes the Museum as a “vestigial memory space” and also symbolises the reasons for this empty space that is inherent to the Museum, the City of Vienna and Austria: Freud’s flight from the Holocaust stands pars pro toto for millions of refugees and murdered people.
The Museum surface, enlarged from 280 m² to 400 m², caters for constantly increasing visitor footfall. On different display levels, visitors can learn about Freud’s biography and family life as well as the development of psychoanalytic research in theory and practice. There are also rooms for temporary exhibitions showcasing the current importance of psychoanalysis and the relevance of Sigmund Freud’s cultural writings.
In future, the Library of Psychoanalysis will have room for its collection of approximately 40,000 items: the floor above the Museum is devoted entirely to scientific research and, together with the archive, will offer working space for the scientific team and researchers working on site on longer-term scientific topics.
The centrepiece of the scientific area and library is a function and reading room that forges a link between the 20th and 21st century with its classical period look and modern infrastructure.
Work places with modern equipment for library users, professional service facilities, and expert storage facilities for the library’s holdings ensure an appropriate handling of Europe’s largest library of psychoanalysis in keeping with international standards.
Letters of Endorsement
Personalities from different fields endorse this project and the Sigmund Freud Museum:
Dominic Freud, Sigmund Freud's great-grandson, Chairman of Freud Foundation US, New York
Stefano Bolognini, Psychoanalyst, President of the International Psychoanalytical Association, Bologna
Judith Butler, Philosopher and Philologist, University of California, Berkeley
Gerhard Roth, Writer, Vienna
Siri Hustvedt, Writer, New York
Thomas Kohut, Psychoanalyst and Historian, Williams College, Massachusetts
Carol Seigel, Director, Freud Museum London