Sigmund Freud Museum 2020
As of 2020, Sigmund Freud’s former place of work at Vienna’s Berggasse 19—the birthplace of psychoanalysis—will be presented to the public in a form that does justice to the standards of this unique museum and scientific venue.
Plans include the renovation of the façade. The historical entrance as it welcomed Sigmund Freud’s patients and visitors at the beginning of the last century will continue to admit museum visitors to Berggasse 19, an address in Vienna that is steeped in history.
In line with elemental international museum standards, a reception and ticket desk area will be installed on the ground floor, adjoined by a small café and museum shop, with cloakrooms and toilets below, to provide appropriate facilities for more than 100,000 visitors a year. The exhibition area of the Sigmund Freud Museum on the mezzanine is to be extended to 400 m2 and further enlarged by around 150 m2 by additional exhibition areas on the upper ground floor.
Access to the Museum and library will be barrier-free with a lift and cater for the needs of disabled people while observing the requirements of monument preservation and current building legislation.
The Museum as a place of experience: Respecting the character of Sigmund Freud’s workplace and home from the Gründerzeit period, the aim is also to make the family’s private rooms open to the public for the first time. These rooms give an insight into the family’s eventful history and tell the story of the everyday life of a Viennese family at the turn of the century, putting Freud’s work in the social context of his day. In Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic office the original furnishings of the waiting room give visitors a sense of the atmosphere of a 19th-century interior that is so characteristic of Vienna. The museum presentation in the office’s study focuses on the formation of psychoanalytic theory and Freud’s writings on cultural theory. The display recalls his wide-ranging correspondence with colleagues, friends and patients, comprising a total of almost 20,000 letters. In Freud’s treatment room we deal with core aspects of the psychoanalytic treatment method and practice. The empty space left behind by the absence of the couch in this room plays a special role in the new permanent exhibition. The absence of this piece of furniture, that has meanwhile become an icon of psychoanalysis, characterises the Museum as a vestigial memory space and is a symbol of the losses written in our history: Freud’s flight from the Nazis stands pars pro toto for millions of refugees and murdered people.
Freud’s “first office” on the upper ground floor at Berggasse 19, where he treated patients such as “Dora” between 1896 and 1908, is also where the “father of psychoanalysis” wrote the central works in the formative phase of his science such as The Interpretation of Dreams or Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. Here, a selection of works from the collection of contemporary conceptual art of the Sigmund Freud Museum—including pieces by Paolo Calzolari, Joseph Kosuth, Franz West, Heimo Zobernig, Sherri Levine and Georg Herold—will help illuminate key aspects of psychoanalysis and the history of its effects in the sphere of art production.
The new concept of the Museum allows us to explore the former importance and function of the historic rooms at Berggasse 19. With the aid of modern educational instruments the show deals with the many different aspects of this cultural site—from presenting the development of psychoanalysis as a science of the unconscious to the danger of its eradication in the Nazi era and a discussion of its current importance—in a form commensurate with the subject matter, subjecting them to critical scrutiny and presenting them to a wide public.
The architects Hermann Czech, Walter Angonese and ARTEC, Bettina Götz and Richard Manahl sum up the concept of their design for the “SIGMUND FREUD MUSEUM 2020” as follows:
The information content of the Sigmund Freud Museum comprises two aspects:
Information about the subject: scientific, historical and biographical information about psychoanalysis and its origins, its creator Sigmund Freud and his family, particularly Anna Freud. This aspect is not tied to the Freud house or certain rooms.
Local and spatial presence: the physical experience of the most important authentic locality where this scientific work and the personal lives of the protagonists took place. In this respect, the house is a museum of itself. This aspect can only be perceived in the Freud house and by understanding its rooms and their context.
The two aspects are presented and experienced concurrently and as a whole at the Sigmund Freud Museum; in some cases there will even be a direct link. However, it is nevertheless important to keep them distinct so as to ensure the methodical clarity and comprehensibility of the content being presented.
In principle, the aspect of general information and the aspect of the locality itself should thus not be mingled with regard to presentation. Translated into exhibition terms, this means that information not pertaining to a particular room should generally be removed from the walls. The only information left on the walls will be facts concerning the rooms themselves and their former use, furnishings and their surfaces (and findings regarding conservation and restoration).
On the one hand, the pathway through the Museum therefore allows visitors to experience the rooms and their layout, their former use and history, providing information about their one-time appearance, while on the other presenting graduated general information in the form of texts and images that is largely independent of the rooms in terms of content.
Visitors should to a large extent be left to take their own route; however, they should be able to form a mental map as early as possible that encourages finding their own way back and between different areas.
(Excerpt from the concept of the competition entry by Hermann Czech, Walter Angonese and ARTEC, Bettina Götz and Richard Manahl, 2017)
The storey above the Museum will be fully devoted to the extensive scientific activities of the Sigmund Freud Private Foundation: the “Science Floor” will accommodate the Archive and the Library of Psychoanalysis. With almost 40,000 titles, the library is the largest specialist psychoanalytic library in Europe—and the second-largest in the world. For the first time, all books and sections will be combined on one level and will be accessible to all readers. With its open-shelf system ordered by subject, the borrowing library gives access to historical journals from the early days of psychoanalysis, numerous current specialist journals, and all new international publications that reflect the current state of international research pertaining to the theory and practice of psychoanalysis. Works that link psychoanalysis and other disciplines, for example cultural studies, gender studies, film theory, art history, literary studies, etc., complement the emphasis of collection.
The study library will feature workstations available to its own science staff and visitors from Austria and abroad: cooperation partners, psychoanalysts, researchers from university and non-university facilities, and private individuals. The library runs special programmes for young academics including research workshops for students and provides assistance to school-goers doing their VWA course (pre-scientific paper for A-levels).
The centrepiece of the science section is the lecture and reading room: the “historical salon” on the first floor facing Berggasse is to be carefully renovated, equipped with modern infrastructure and equipment and thus made multifunctional for library users and for various scientific events—lectures, conferences, workshops and film screenings.
In order to keep the important scientific location Berggasse 19 alive, the “Freud spenden auf respekt.net” scheme was initiated on the RESPEKT.NET platform — please join in and help harness the knowledge of the “Viennese science” of psychoanalysis for the future: respekt.net/freudspenden
Sigmund Freud - Museum, Mai 2018