Getting to know Sigmund Freud

A short introduction into Sigmund Freud's life with objects and views from the Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna before the renovation project

Sigmund Freud Museum

Sigmund Freud Museum

Entrance to the Sigmund Freud MuseumSigmund Freud Museum

The Sigmund Freud Museum

Since 1971, the Sigmund Freud Museum has been welcoming visitors in Sigmund Freud’s former office and apartment. Formerly a room of commemoration, the museum has developed into a tourist attraction with more than 100,000 visitors per year as well as a place of debate and discussion with research and education projects, scientific events and Europe's largest library on psychoanalysis. In mid-2020, following a year of construction, the Sigmund Freud Museum will reopen renovated, expanded, and barrier-free. For the first time ever, all private rooms of the Freud family will be accessible including his “first” practice located on the upper ground floor. New exhibitions and the multifaceted architectural concept reveal traces of history and combine them with state-of-the-art museum standards. The museum has been operated by the Sigmund Freud Foundation since 2003.

Historical stairwell, From the collection of: Sigmund Freud Museum
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Welcome to the house Berggasse 19, Vienna, where Sigmund Freud spent 47 years of his life - this is the historical stairwell all visitors and patients had to walk through

Sigmund Freud in his apartment, From the collection of: Sigmund Freud Museum
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Sigmund Freud, 1939/1939, From the collection of: Sigmund Freud Museum
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Sigmund Freud was born in 1856 in Pribor, now Czechia, then part of the Austro- Hungarian Empire. He moved to Vienna as a child, in 1891, he set up his practise at Berggasse 19, which is now the Sigmund Freud Museum.

View entrance roomSigmund Freud Museum

The entrance room into Sigmund Freuds practise, where Sigmund Freud's housekeeper opened the door to the patients and guided them to the waiting room.

Door signSigmund Freud Museum

Doorplate “Prof. Dr. Freud 3-4”, giving the consulting hours. "There were two doors on the landing. The one to the right was the Professor’s professional door; the one to the left, the Freud family door. Apparently, the two apartments had been arranged so that there should be as little confusion as possible between family and patients or students." [“H D”]

View waiting room, From the collection of: Sigmund Freud Museum
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The waiting room of Sigmund Freud's practice. After clients were ushered here, they waited for their therapy hour in the consulting room.

Microtome, From the collection of: Sigmund Freud Museum
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Freud’s microtome - a precision instrument for cutting extremely fine sections of tissue for microscopic work - a gift by fellow physician Carl Koller. "I don’t work at home, however, and thank you therefore very much for the microtome." (To Carl Koller, 13th. October 1886

Sigmund Freud with his fatherSigmund Freud Museum

Childhood and youth

Sigmund Freud was born to his parents Jakob Koloman Freud and Amalie Nathanson Freud, who was his father's third wife. In 1860, the Freuds moved to Vienna, where Sigmund went to school in the second district - he was an outstanding pupil.

commemoration-sheet of Family-Bibel (1856-02-23/1856-02-23)Sigmund Freud Museum

Memorial page from the Ludwig Philippson Family Bible in which Freud’s father records the death of his father Salomon (Schlomo) and the birth and circumcision of Sigmund Freud in Hebrew and German. "My son Solomon Sigmund was born on Tuesday, the first day of the month of Iar 616 at 6:30 in the afternoon = 6th. May 1856. He entered the Jewish community on Tuesday, the 8th. day of the month of Iar = 13th. May 1856."

Sigmund Freud with siblingsSigmund Freud Museum

Freud at the left, aged approximately 9 years, with his five younger sisters and his brother Alexander (centre front) about 1867, from an anonymous oil painting.

Sigmund Freud with his father, From the collection of: Sigmund Freud Museum
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Freud with his father Jakob Koloman Freud, 1864. "I received my first instruction at home, then attended a private primary school. In the autumn of 1865 I entered the Real-und Obergymnasium in Leopoldstadt." (Curriculum vitae, 1885)

Protocol graduation-tests (1873-07-01/1873-07-01)Sigmund Freud Museum

Record of the matriculation exams held at the Leopoldstädter Communal-Realgymnasium in Vienna in the month of July, 1873. Lit.3: Freud Sigmund from Freiberg in Moravia.
Freud’s assessments are:
Moral Conduct: exemplary
Religious Education (Mosaic): very good
Latin: very good
Greek: very good
German: excellent
History and Geography: very good
Physics: very good
General Natural History: laudable
Mathematics: very good
Preparatory course: very good
University entrance: excellent

Jean Martin Charcot (1887/1887)Sigmund Freud Museum

Student, teachers, fellows

In 1873, Sigmund Freud took up his studies at Vienna University and graduates as Doctor of Medicine in 1881. He works in several hospitals and goes to Paris with a scholarship in 1885.

Carl Claus, From the collection of: Sigmund Freud Museum
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Prof. Dr. Carl Claus (1835 – 1899), Director of the Institute of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy at the University of Vienna, lithograph by Rudolf Fenzl. "In the first years of my university life I attended lectures mainly in physics and natural history; I also worked for a year in the laboratory of Prof. C. Claus, and was twice sent on vacation courses to the zoological station at Trieste." (Curriculum vitae, 1885).

Apply for Travel-Scholarship to Triest (1876-02-22/1876-02-22)Sigmund Freud Museum

Sigmund Freud, the medical student, applies for a travel grant to go to Trieste. "Gentlemen, The undersigned, after attending lectures in zoology for several semesters, worked during the winter semester 1875/76 in the Zoological and Zootomical Institute of Zoology and would consider it a great opportunity for advancement if he could continue his studies in Trieste during the Easter vacation. As he is unable to raise enough for his expenses out of his own resources, he is applying to the distinguished Ministry for a travel grant. Vienna, 22nd February 1876. Sigmund Freud."

Ernst Wilhelm von BrückeSigmund Freud Museum

Prof. Ernst Wilhelm Ritter von Brücke (1819 – 1892), Director of the Physiological Institute at the University of Vienna from 1849 to 1890. Freud named his youngest son (the architect Ernst Freud) after Brücke. "At length, in Ernst Brücke’s physiological laboratory, I found rest and full satisfaction - and men, too, whom I could respect and take as my models: the great Brücke himself, and his assistants, Sigmund Exner and Ernst Fleischl von Marxow. With the last of these, a brilliant man, I was privileged to be upon terms of friendship." (An Autobiographical Study, 1925)

Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow, 1880/1880, From the collection of: Sigmund Freud Museum
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Prof. Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow (1846 – 1891), Brücke’s assistant and Freud’s close friend. His picture hung next to the couch in Freud’s consulting room, and his monument is among the busts of other medical teachers of Freud’s in the arcaded courtyard of the University of Vienna.

Part of 2nd Psychatrical HospitalSigmund Freud Museum

Wing of the Second Psychiatric Clinic at the General Hospital. "On May 1, 1883, I was appointed Junior Resident at Prof. Th. Meynert’s psychiatric clinic, where I spent five months." (Curriculum Vitae [1885])

Cover "About Coca" Sigmund Freud (1885/1885)Sigmund Freud Museum

Sigmund Freud: Über Coca (Coca), 1884 (offprint). As many other physicians, Freud conducted research on the then new drug cocaine for its medical use. "Coca wasn’t finished till last night; the first half has already been corrected today; it will be 11/2 sheets long; the few gulden I have earned by it I had to subtract from my pupil, whom I sent away yesterday and today. [...]. (To Martha Bernays, 19th. June 1884)"

Carl Koller, 1883/1883, From the collection of: Sigmund Freud Museum
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Carl Koller (1857 – 1944) in about 1883, an eye surgeon and a colleague of Freud’s at the General Hospital who, together with Freud, conducted experiments upon animals, discovering in 1884 the application of cocaine as a local anaesthetic for the eye, a discovery which brought him world-wide fame. "I had myself indicated this application of the alkaloid in my published paper, but I had not been thorough enough to pursue the matter further." (The Interpretation of Dreams, 1900)

Jean Martin Charcot (1887/1887)Sigmund Freud Museum

Charcot at the Salpetriere

In the consulting room, between the window and the entrance door, hung “Une leçon du Dr. Charcot à la Salpêtrière” by P.-A. Brouillet, 1887. In 1885/1886 Freud spent a semester on a scholarship at Charcot's clinic in Paris, then one of the most inventive and respected psychiatrists. " At ten o’clock M. Charcot arrived, a tall man of fifty-eight, wearing a top hat, with dark, strangely soft eyes (or rather, one is; the other is expressionless and has an inward cast), long wisps of hair stuck behind his ears, clean shaven, very expressive features with full protruding lips - in short, like a worldly priest from whom one expects a ready wit and an appreciation of good living. He sat down and began examining the patients" (To Martha Bernays, 21st October 1885)

Sigmund Freud and Martha, Weddingmenu (1886-08-24/1886-08-24)Sigmund Freud Museum


Sigmund Freud marries Martha Bernays (b. 1861) in 1886. They have six children: Mathilde (1887-1978), Jean-Martin (1889 - 1967) , Oliver (1891 - 1969), Ernst (1892-1970), Sophie (1893 - 1920) and Anna (1895 - 1982)

Martha Freud, 1884/1884, From the collection of: Sigmund Freud Museum
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Martha Bernays, aged 21, at the time of her engagement to Freud in June 1882. The Bernays family came from Wandsbek near Hamburg and moved to Vienna in 1869. After the death of the father, Michael Bernays, the family moved back to Wandsbek in 1882. During the period of their separation from 1882 to 1886, the engaged couple wrote the so-called Brautbriefe [literally, “Bride Letters”] to each other. "Martha is mine, the sweet girl of whom everyone speaks with admiration, who despite all my resistance captivated my heart at our first meeting, the girl I feared to court and who came toward me with high-minded confidence, who strengthened the faith in my own value and gave me new hope and energy to work when I needed it most." (To Martha Bernays, 19th. June 1882)

Sigmund Freud and Martha Freud, 1882/1882, From the collection of: Sigmund Freud Museum
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Sigmund Freud with daughter Sophie, From the collection of: Sigmund Freud Museum
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Freud with his daughter Sophie around 1912. She died 1920 due to the Spanish flue and left two sons behind.

Minna Bernays, From the collection of: Sigmund Freud Museum
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Minna Bernays (1865 – 1941), Martha Freud’s sister. Following the death of her fiancé Ignaz Schönberg she remained unmarried and from 1896 lived with the Freud family at Berggasse 19.

Sigmund and Anna Freud in The HangueSigmund Freud Museum

Anna Freud became a Psychoanalyst herself. She managed, tended and disseminated Freud’s legacy and played a key role in the founding of the Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna. She created a discrete form of therapy by systematising and refining child psychoanalysis and she was able to prove that psychoanalytic findings may also be applied to child analysis. Anna Freud’s book The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence was published in 1936 and quickly became a classic of psychoanalytic literature. The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence became a standard work above all in the field of ‘ego psychology’, that was very widespread in the USA after 1945.

Waitingroom, Showcase with Antiques (1994/1994)Sigmund Freud Museum


As his third “obsession” (besides travelling and smoking), Sigmund Freud indicated the collecting of antique objects, which transformed his practice rooms into an “archaeological cabinet”. His collection, which consisted of almost 3000 pieces, accompanied him to his exile in London in 1938. The Sigmund Freud Museum is showing the selection of about 80 pieces which was donated by his daughter Anna Freud for the foundation of this museum in 1971.

servant figurineSigmund Freud Museum

Egyptian Uschebti

Abu Simbel, 1906/1906, From the collection of: Sigmund Freud Museum
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The Rock Temple of Abu Simbel from a water-colour by E. Koerner. This picture used to hang above the couch in Freud's consulting room and was another symbol for Freud's interest in past cultures and the antique.

Sigmund Freud MuseumSigmund Freud Museum

Dreams - Psychoanalysis

the Interpretation of Dreams, published in 1899, marked the starting point for the worldwide dissemination of Psychoanalysis. Freud gained popoularity around the globe, won friends and followers national and international and gave talks in the USA and Europe.

Hotel Bellevue, From the collection of: Sigmund Freud Museum
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Bellevue Castle in 1892, where Freud spent his summer holidays in 1895 and 1900 as a guest of the Ritter von Schlag family. On July 24th, 1895, Sigmund Freud had the first dream he could fully interpret. This date therefore marks the beginning of the interpretation of dreams.

Sigmund Freud MuseumSigmund Freud Museum

After the dream in 1895, it took Freud four more years to write his book "The Interpretation of Dreams", dated at 1900, which is considered up to now his most important and influential writing. "In the pages that follow I shall bring forward proof that there is a psychological technique which makes it possible to interpret dreams, and that, if that procedure is employed, every dream reveals itself as a psychical structure which has a meaning and which can be inserted at an assignable point in the mental activities of waking life." (The Interpretation of Dreams [1900])

Letter from Sigmund Freud to Arthur SchnitzlerSigmund Freud Museum

Sigmund Freud exchanged letters with many leading intellectuals of his time. This is a letter to the playwright Arthur Schnitzler, a trained physician like Freud.

June 8, 1922

Dear Dr. Schnitzler

In your kind letter you suggested the possibility of a meeting or visit so that we might have the opportunity to chat while, as you hint, there is still time to do so. I look forward to this, without making any specific plans for these hours.
May I propose that you simply share supper with us one evening next week? We being: my wife and my daughter, whom you have already met, along with myself. No one else will be there. As I am at work during the day until 8 p.m. and have several regular evening appointments, I must make so bold as to make certain suggestions. I can offer you the choice of the 12th (Monday), 13th (Tuesday) and 16th (Friday), if said week and meeting place are indeed convenient for you. Having happened to hear that you have stayed in Vienna, and given that I myself am leaving town on the 29th of the month, I am writing earlier than your letter would have entitled me to do.

Yours sincerely

Carl Gustav JungSigmund Freud Museum

Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961). Jung was involved with psychoanalysis from 1906 on. He and Freud visited one another several times. Jung founded the Swiss local group of the International Psycho-analytical Association and in 1910 was elected President of the IPA, a post from which he resigned in 1914 and left the Association that same year and established his own school. From then on, the Jungian direction described itself as “Analytic Psychology”.
"In favour of Jung were his exceptional talents, the contributions he had already made to psycho-analysis, his independent position and the impression of assured energy which his personality conveyed. In addition to this, he seemed ready to enter into a friendly relationship with me and for my sake to give up certain racial prejudices which he had previously permitted himself." (On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement, 1914)

Sandor Ferenczi, 1913/1913, From the collection of: Sigmund Freud Museum
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Sándor Ferenczi (1873 – 1933). Budapest, 1913. To his honoured teacher Professor Freud, his grateful S. Ferenczi. (Dedication) Ferenczi was the leading representative of psychoanalysis in Hungary. With Freud, who particularly valued Ferenczi’s works, he enjoyed a close friendship as is evidenced by their extensive correspondence. Ferenczi was a member of the “Committee”.

Group picture Clark University, 1909/1909, From the collection of: Sigmund Freud Museum
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In 1909, Freud travelled to the USA together with Ferenczi and Jung to give lectures in German in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the opening of Clark University.
Group photograph in front of Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.
left to right, seated: Sigmund Freud, G. Stanley Hall (president of Clark University), C.G. Jung; standing: Abraham A. Brill, Ernest Jones, Sándor Ferenczi.

Sigmund and Anna Freud on their way into exileSigmund Freud Museum

Escape, exile, death

In 1938, the Freud family had to flee Austria, which had already become part of the German Reich. "I saw Hitler’s hordes arrive in Vienna. I saw the Gestapo agents in the old house in the Berggasse. I saw how the Institute and the Psychoanalytical Press were closed down and the books, the beautiful books housed there, carted away to be reduced to pulp. And I saw Freud, eighty-two years of age, on his way with his family to exile in free England, where he died barely a year later, struck down by the grim disease which he had borne for so long with heroic resignation[…]" (Marie Bonaparte in „Freies Österreich“ [La libre Autriche] Heft 1, Paris 1940)

Marie Bonaparte with Chow, From the collection of: Sigmund Freud Museum
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Marie Bonaparte (1882-1962) who was a psychoanalyst and a close friend to the family, played an important role in organising diplomatic contacts to ensure a safe travel for the Freuds.

Sigmund and Anna Freud on their way into exile, From the collection of: Sigmund Freud Museum
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After long negotiations and many suppressions from the regime, Freud and his family boarded the Orient Express on June 4, 1938, to leave for Paris and eventually go to London.

Sigmund Freud with Marie Bonaparte and William C. Bullitt, From the collection of: Sigmund Freud Museum
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Freud with Marie Bonaparte and Ambassador William C. Bullitt, the loyal supporters of the emigrating family, on arrival at the Gare de l’Est in Paris on 5th. June 1938.

Men of the Royal Society and Sigmund Freud (1938/1938)Sigmund Freud Museum

Freud with the secretaries of the Royal Society on 23rd. June 1938. The delegation brought the Honorary Register of the Society so that he could enter his name, as Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin had done earlier. Freud was absolutely delighted at being honoured in this way. "What pleased me most was the visit of the two secretaries from the Royal Society who brought the sacred book of the Society for me to sign, since a fresh indisposition (bladder trouble) prevents me from going out. They left a facsimile of the book with me and if you were here I could show you the signatures, from I. Newton to Charles Darwin. Good company!" (To Arnold Zweig, 28th. June 1938)

Sigmund Freud, Martha Freud (1939/1939)Sigmund Freud Museum

Sigmund and Martha Freud in the garden of the house in Maresfield Gardens, London, September 1939. "But I am more than eighty-three years old, thus actually overdue, and there is really nothing left for me but to follow your poem’s advice: Wait, wait." (To Albrecht Schaeffer, 19th. September 1939) - Sigmund Freud died on September 23, 1939, a few days after this picture was taken

Credits: Story

Sigmund Freud Museum, Florian Lierzer, Gerald Zugmann

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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