Freud, Berggasse 19

Originally preserved spatial structures reveal an authentic experience of the birthplace of psychoanalysis, and the various exhibits (objects, historical manuscripts, photographs) highlight the professional stations and biographical facettes of Freud’s professional and family life. Special printings, rare first editions, offprints, and presentation copies provide insights into the geneses of Freud’s theoretical work. Foreign-language (first) editions in Hungarian, Swedish, Hebrew, or Japanese, furthermore eloquently testify to the extent of the international dissemination of the psychoanalytical movement during Freud’s time.

This layer of information is in many ways closely connected to the history of each respective room: the practice of psychoanalysis and the so-called “talking cure” is addressed with the help of case histories and texts in Freud’s former treatment room. Doing so refers to the former use of the room and brings it into the present. In this vein, the spot where the psychoanalytical couch once stood remains empty. Monika Pessler explains why the museum deliberately avoided reconstructing the original room: “This void, which has existed in Freud’s treatment room since his flight from the National Socialist regime, clearly represents the dark side of history. To reconstruct a ‘world of yesterday’ (Stefan Zweig) within these rooms – i.e. a world before the March 1938 Anschluss (annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany), as if Freud’s forced exile in London never happened – would be to negate a significant part of Freud’s history and, in doing so, negate ours.”

Anna Freud’s adjacent living and practice rooms are dedicated to her work of combining psychoanalysis and pedagogy, which she performed together with her partner Dorothy Burlingham in Vienna and, after their emigration, in London. Several personal artifacts on display have been loaned from the Freud Museum London.

Following the exhibition concept, the private rooms of the Freud family are dedicated to Freud’s life as a family father and his career path as a young physician and neurologist. Objects such as hospital documents and medicinal instruments, as well as travel toiletry kits, gifts to his future wife Martha, and other personal objects provide the viewer with information on Freud’s family life, and according to Daniela Finzi, “set into motion imaginations, associations, and narratives.” Texts and manuscripts from the estate of the Freud family will be presented to the public for the first time in these rooms. Freud’s former bedroom is dedicated to the topic of The Interpretation of Dreams – listening stations furthermore provide an auditory experience of Sigmund Freud’s dreams. Original pieces of furniture have found their way into the exhibition for the first time including a dresser on permanent loan from the Freud Museum London which, along with its accompanying intarsia table, makes up part of the original, historical ensemble of the Herrenzimmer (gentlemen’s salon).

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Concept and Design: Atelier Czech/Hermann Czech and Gerhard Flora
Curators: Sigmund Freud Museum/Monika Pessler and Daniela Finzi

Participants and partners

Exhibition assistance: Johanna Frei and Nora Haas

Consulting Prined items: Arkadi Blatow

Lenders: Bibliothèque Charcot, Arkadi Blatow, Freud Museum London, Matthew Freud, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Wiener Psychoanalytische Vereinigung, Familie Toncar

Editing exhibition texts: Hermann Czech, Daniela Finzi, Gerhard Flora, Johanna Frei and Monika Pessler

Translations: Elise Feiersinger (wall texts) and Brita Pohl (showcase texts)

Lectorate german: Eva Fröhlich

Lectorate english: Maria Slater

Graphic design wall texts: Michael Neubacher

Graphic design showcases: Martha Stutteregger

Restoration and restorator's reports: Claudia Riff and Fabia Podgorschek

Book restoration: Mirjam Bazán Castaneda

Furniture restoration: Gerald Ratheyser

Photo restoration: Andreas Gruber

Showcase construction: ARTEX Museum Services

Light management: Zumtobel Licht AG

Installations: Stefan Flunger


Hidden Thoughts of a Visual Nature

Freud maintained his practice in the "medical apartment" on the upper ground floor of the building from 1896 to 1906. Now the permanent exhibition "Hidden Thoughts of a Visual Nature" can be seen there - a presentation of selected works from the Sigmund Freud Museum's conceptual art collection, which was established in 1989 with an installation by the American artist Joseph Kosuth. Twelve artworks by John Baldessari, Wolfgang Berkowski, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Jessica Diamond, Georg Herold, Susan Hiller, Ilya Kabakov, Joseph Kosuth, Sherrie Levine, Haim Steinbach, Franz West, and Heimo Zobernig are on display in the premises of Freud's "first" practice.

The pieces of Joseph Kosuth and Heimo Zobernig are shown in the former waiting room, which served as a meeting place for the famous Wednesday Psychological Society from 1902 onwards. Kosuth's wall installation encourages the integration of new thoughts into the existing material. In Zobernig’s work, the structural similarity between vision and reality becomes the subject of artistic scrutiny.

In the little veranda, found objects and pieces of language become the protagonists of Sherrie Levine’s and Wolfgang Berkowski’s artistic narratives. In Freud’s former treatment room, works of visual art incorporate core themes from the field of psychological investigation: Georg Herold addresses the question «whether our ‹civilized› sexual morality is worth the sacrifice which it imposes on us» with critical wit. With an «AHA!» Haim Steinbach draws attention to communication in the course of the psychoanalytic therapy in his reference to the talking cure —the foundation of all talking therapy even today. For John Baldessari, photographic references form a starting point for his visualization of the affinity and the discrepancy of the un-canny. Susan Hiller tests the idea of «seeing oneself in others» in her extensive study of the archival materials from Freud's estate. In the center, Franz West's "Liège" is set up. Where Freud's couch presumably stood, its crudely welded counterpart now rises on a white pedestal, less an invitation to linger than a reference to the instrumental character of the psychoanalytic setting.

In the room in which Freud wrote The Interpretation of Dreams, Jessica Diamond’s piece "Me-constellation", both self- and other-referential, is presented. Ilya Kabakov’s installation, based on items of furniture found at Berggasse 19, unfolds its symbolism in the place where Sigmund Freud’s desk once stood, underscoring the room’s erstwhile purpose, and adding the fantastic autobiographical story "The Man Who Flew Into His Picture".

Positioned on the wall of the former kitchen of Freud’s practice, through which it was possible to leave discreetly after the psychoanalytic session, Pier Paolo Calzolari presents "Avido" (greed), a piece that highlights sexual desire.

The preserved architectural elements of Freud’s former workplace not only define the birthplace of psychoanalysis. Major ideas that Freud once tested and formulated here coincide with those of the works on display: Questions about the relationship between the sexes are raised as a theme, as is the possible discrepancy between what is experienced and what is remembered, or between individual and social (self-)determination. The close, interdependent relationship between art and the surrounding space differs significantly here from the criteria of the neutrally designed "white cube" usually favored for the presentation of contemporary art - since the works of art corresponding in and with Freud's former workplace and all its historical implications merge in this site with their surroundings to form a unity of effect.


Concept: Monika Pessler

Olaf Nicolai: Trauer und Melancholie (Mourning and Melancholia)

Olaf Nicolai's work "Trauer und Melancholie" (Mourning and Melancholia) was presented in the Sigmund Freud Museum's "Library of Psychoanalysis" on the 82nd anniversary of Sigmund Freud's death. With his artistic documentation (2009/12), Nicolai made possible the first translation of Freud's eponymous writing from German into Arabic. In addition to the presentation of the publications (de/en), his concept also includes the presentation of the text as a radio play, which was produced by the radio station Amwaj 91.5 FM in 2009 and broadcast as a reading lasting several hours as part of the Ramallah Biennial.

As an integral part of the installation, film recordings of the preparatory conversation between the radio speaker and the translator Mohammad Abu-Zaid convey the complexity of this undertaking, which is due not least to the differences between the respective (language) cultures. Thus, the artistic translation performance not only "speaks" insights into various states of mourning in the literal sense, but above all places interpersonal dialogue at the center of consideration - that is, the procedure that is just as inscribed in psychoanalysis as it is in humanitarian attempts to clarify and resolve the Middle East conflict.

The work is accessible upon request.

Made possible by the Society of Friends of the Fine Arts.


Ermöglicht durch die Gesellschaft der Freunde der bildenden Künste.

12. November 2021 - 18. April 2022


The exhibition ORGANIZED ESCAPE – SURVIVAL IN EXILE. VIENNESE PSYCHOANALYSIS 1938 AND BEYOND portrays the fates of the – mostly Jewish – psychoanalysts who had to leave Vienna after the “Anschluss”, the annexation of Austria into National Socialist Germany. Due to the efforts of the international psychoanalytic community, most members and candidates of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society (Wiener Psychoanalytische Vereinigung, WPV) were able to flee. A particularity of this escape is the fact that emigration was organized collectively, and was successful but for a few exceptions. The members who had thus escaped being murdered substantially contributed to the further development and global dissemination of psychoanalysis in their new home countries.

The Organized Escape

In close consultation with Anna Freud, it was in particular the British psychoanalyst Ernest Jones who resolutely and persistently orchestrated the systematic rescue operation from London. In fact, all Viennese psychoanalysts under threat had managed to flee Vienna by spring 1939. Sigmund Freud had left the city by train with all his family on June 4, 1938, settling in London, where he died in September 1939. Not a single one of the emigrated WPV members was to return permanently to Vienna after the war.

Documents, Maps, Lists

The exhibition allows visitors to trace escape routes and shows bureaucratic and organizational efforts by presenting selected biographies, correspondences, historical documents and maps. The most important testimony to this organized escape is a list with names and annotations that Ernest Jones compiled in 1938. Audio and video interviews provide personal insights.

From Individual Historical Fates to Current Refugee Movements

On the basis of selected individual fates of members who fled Vienna, the exhibition illustrates the development of psychoanalysis in exile and its continued life in Vienna after the WPV was reestablished in 1946. The exhibition thus allows for a differentiated approach to questions that are still relevant today, regarding antisemitism and xenophobia as well as current refugee movements.

Digital and Analogue Exhibition

You can view the contents of the presentation in our online exhibitions

Curators of the exhibition were Daniela Finzi and Monika Pessler (Sigmund Freud Museum) in cooperation with the “Working Group on the History of Psychoanalysis“ (Thomas Aichhorn, Georg Augusta, Eva Kohout, Roman Krivanek, Nadja Pakesch, Alix Paulus and Katharina Seifert), which was initiated by the two International Psychoanalytic Association member institutions based in Vienna – the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society (WPV) and the Vienna Psychoanalytic Association (WAP).


Special exhibition at the Sigmund Freud Museum
November 12, 2021 to April 18, 2022


Supported by

Stadt Wien – MA 7
Nationalfonds der Republik Österreich für Opfer des Nationalsozialismus (National Fund)
Botstiber Institute for Austrian-American Studies
Zukunftsfonds der Republik Österreich
Wiener Psychoanalytische Vereinigung
Wiener Arbeitskreis für Psychoanalyse
International Psychoanalytical Association
August Ruhs

Freund:innen des Sigmund Freud Museums
American Friends of the Sigmund Freud Museum


Archiv Thomas Aichhorn
Esther Freud


Scans and Materials:

Austen Riggs Center
Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute
British Psychoanalytic Society
Columbia University Libraries
Freud Museum London
KHM Museumsverband
Library of Congress
The National Archives
New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute
The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation
The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Wiener Psychoanalytische Vereinigung
Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv

SURREAL! Imagining New Realities

Until April 10, 2023, the special exhibition "SURREAL! Imagining New Realities" at the Sigmund Freud Museum explores the tense relationship between psychoanalysis and surrealism. Approximately 100 works from the fields of painting, photography, and literature illustrate the references of the artistic avant-garde to the science of the unconscious using various thematic perspectives and including works by (among others) Hans Bellmer, Victor Brauner, Salvador Dalí, Giorgio de Chirico, Max Ernst, Conroy Maddox, André Masson, Meret Oppenheim, Pablo Picasso, Alberto Savinio, Toyen (Marie Čermínová), and Dorothea Tanning.

The comprehensive and multi-layered examination of Surrealism at the birthplace of psychoanalysis is made possible by the generous loan of art collector and former gallery owner Helmut Klewan and supplemented by selected exhibits from other lenders.

Surrealism and Psychoanalysis

“I believe in the future resolution of these two states, dream and reality, which are seemingly so contradictory, into a kind of absolute reality, a surreality“ - this is André Breton's famous confession, which he put down in his "Manifeste du Surréalisme" in 1924. Breton calls for the expansion of the reason-based approach to human life's realities to include the unconscious as well as a rapturous, libidinal, and dreamlike experience. In fact, Freud's insights into the functions of the "psychic apparatus" gained importance in the works of the Surrealists from the mid-1920s onward - especially those forces that elude psychic control and censorship.

"SURREAL! Imagining New Realities" describes the interrelations between the art form founded by Breton and psychoanalysis, which, with all its shifts, condensations, and productive misunderstandings, so significantly determined the development of the Surrealist movement.

The exhibition is curated by Monika Pessler and Daniela Finzi (Sigmund Freud Museum)

SURREAL! Imagining New Realities

Special exhibition at the Sigmund Freud Museum
Until April 10, 2023


Supported by