UCL Academic Co-Curates Freud’s Antiquities Exhibition

University College London

A new exhibition at the Freud Museum London and accompanying digital archive bring rarely seen antiquities from Sigmund Freud’s extensive collection into dialogue with his key theories, co-curated by UCL Professor Miriam Leonard.

Freud's couch

In June 1938, an ageing cancer-stricken Sigmund Freud and his family were forced to leave Nazi-occupied Vienna and flee to London with a curious collection of ancient artifacts in tow. Freud’s study, preserved at his final home in Hampstead, contains a vast array of nearly 2,500 collected objects that originate from or are inspired by the ancient world.

‘Freud’s Antiquity: Object, Idea, Desire’ seeks to examine the link between the neurologist’s collection of antiquities and the development of his concepts and methods of psychoanalysis (a type of therapy which aims to reveal unconscious or subconscious thoughts).

Professor Miriam Leonard (UCL Greek & Latin), co-curator of the exhibition, said: “For the new exhibition, twenty-five key objects, books and prints, each normally hidden from view, will be offered for investigation at close range. Together they will offer a new understanding of Freud and his extraordinary understanding of the mind.

“Through his readings and travels, Freud developed an obsession with archaeology and he began to understand the mind as a kind of archaeological site which the psychoanalyst could excavate to uncover repressed memories. Freud frequently used the objects in his collection to explain his theories of the mind to his patients.”

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