London: The Freud Museum

There are three pictures of me in front of the Freud Museum, and I am making a weird face in each one.  This was the best of the lot.

There were three pictures taken of me in front of the Freud Museum, and I am making a weird face in each one. This was the best of the lot.

The weather was gorgeous last weekend, (as you can probably tell, since I’m not wearing one of my ubiquitous woollen coats), so my boyfriend and I decided to go for a walk near Hampstead.  The Freud Museum is also in the vicinity of Hampstead, so that was our educational adventure for the day.  Here’s a perhaps little known fact about me: although I double majored in history and English as an undergrad, I was initially very seriously considering doing a psychology degree, since I had the most amazing psychology teacher in high school, and I was addicted to those pop psychology books with the personality tests in them when I was a teenager.  However, my psychology class at university was taught by this horrible TA, and it put me off the subject entirely, which is regrettable simply because if I had majored in psychology, I’d probably have a job right now.  Anyway, the point of this story is that I can definitely dig me some Freud, since I’m familiar with his theories, but not well-versed enough in psych to completely scoff at them (and really, don’t most things in life boil down to innuendo and penises?)

The man himself + cigar.

The man himself + cigar.

This will be another post that’s light on pictures, because we weren’t too sure whether we were allowed to take them or not, so only snapped a few discreet shots. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure photography was ok in every room except for the one with Freud’s actual couch, since they had specific signs up in there prohibiting it.  You know, in the one room you would want to take pictures of, because it had all his coolest stuff in it.  So, Freud actually only lived in this house for about a year, as he had to flee Vienna following the Anschluss in 1938, and died in 1939, but the amount of furniture and other memorabilia is still impressive, considering.  His daughter Anna, also a psychoanalyst, lived here until her death in 1982, so that probably helped in regard to the number of his possessions.  That said, it’s not so much a museum as it is an historic home, since it’s arranged much as it would have been when Sigmund lived there, and most things aren’t captioned.

Freud's garden

Freud’s garden

Admission is £6, and an audio tour was an extra 2 quid, which lots of people seemed to be using, but I think I’ve been clear about my feelings on audio tours, particularly if they cost extra, so we skipped it.  There was just enough explanatory signage that I didn’t feel deprived by this, especially since I read the bonus room information kept on large cards near each doorway, though I suppose the audio tour could have been super amazing (it probably wasn’t).  Although the house was a reasonable size, only about 5 of the rooms were actually open to the public, plus the small garden and a gift shop.  The upper floor contained Anna Freud‘s bedroom, a video room which had some excellent home movies of Freud with commentary by Anna, which were well worth watching, and a room that is used for temporary exhibits, which was, naturally, home to some psychoanalytical related art.  I have to say, I much preferred the painting of the tree of wolves done by one of Freud’s patients that was hung in the hallway, but I’ve also made my feelings on modern art abundantly clear in this blog, so I’ll refrain from complaining about it now.

Freud's coat, umbrella, boots, and other small possessions.

Freud’s coat, umbrella, boots, and other small possessions.

The ground floor is where the motherlode is, including Freud’s office with the famous couch (the museum website mentions that it is very comfy, but of course you’re not allowed to actually sit on it.  I think I’d like to gauge its comfort level for myself.  It did look comfy though, all draped with Oriental blankets and rugs.) He was also quite the collector of antiquities, but they are all just jumbled up in a display case, without descriptions (maybe that’s when the audio tour paid for itself, though I doubt it, as the people who were using the audio guide in that room were all congregated around the couch, so that no one else could look closely at it).  There were a number of painted wardrobes in the house, which was apparently Anna’s thing more than Sigmund’s, but I thought they were neat.  The house was peppered throughout with little placards about some of Freud’s dream analysis, and more details about the family members who lived there with him, which I enjoyed.  It didn’t take a huge amount of time to see everything, but it was an enjoyable little outing, made so mainly by the fact that Freud actually owned these things, more than the intrinsic appeal of the objects themselves.

Dick Whittington's cat!

Dick Whittington’s cat!

This is utterly unrelated to the Freud museum, but after a long, circuitous walk up to Highgate via Hampstead Heath, we ended up catching the tube home from Archway Station, where we stumbled upon this delightful little statue of Dick Whittington’s cat.  Fittingly, it was just outside the Whittington Stone pub.  Just a little heads up if you’re in the area and enjoy cat statues, as I seem to (seeing as I’ve already got a picture of myself posing with Dr. Johnson’s cat Hodge on this blog).

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I’ll give the Freud Museum 3/5, since I liked it about as much as the Windmill Museum. It was perfectly nice, and a good opportunity to learn more about Freud’s life, but it was on the small side, especially for the price.

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