The Freud Museum

Events Archive

16 September 2013 - 26 September 2013
On public display Wednesday - Sunday 12-5pm

Freud's Psychoanalytic Couch Conservation

A unique opportunity to view Freud's couch laid bare

The most famous analytic couch in the world is set to undergo special repair to its aging fabric at the Freud Museum London. The couch normally on display in Sigmund Freud’s study will from the 16 to the 26 September be on view close up and without its famous Qashqa'i rug cover while expert conservator Poppy Singer mends its torn seams and frayed webbing in a temporary ‘studio’ to be set up in the Dining Room of Freud’s last home.

Freud’s couch in a classic, early 19th century, Biedermeier style; was a gift to Freud in 1891 from Madame Benvenisti, a patient in Vienna, who thought such bourgeois furnishings in Freud’s consulting room would inspire greater confidence in his practice. Under its usual oriental rug covering lies a simple rectangular base, 190cm in length, covered in natural cotton with a scrolled head bolster at one end.

Dawn Kemp, Acting Director of the Freud Museum, commented:

‘‘To be ‘on the couch’ has become universal shorthand for psychoanalytic and psychotherapeutic treatment. If any one object acts as a symbol for the work and ideas of Sigmund Freud it is the couch on which his patients lay as they revealed dreams and memories that were to inform Freud’s theories of the unconscious.

Undertaking the couch repair in a public space affords a rare opportunity for visitors to see ‘beneath the covers’ of this iconic object and to learn more about the research and process involved in contemporary conservation. The conservation has been funded with the generous support of the AKO Foundation and private donors who wish to remain anonymous.”

Artist Jeremy Millar will be filming the process. Millar's work is often an attempt to 're-activate' important events in cultural history, or to consider the material qualities of objects which seem to exist more in the cultural imagination than in the real world. His film, and photographs, will allow us to consider the literal material of this extraordinary artefact, and the importance of the stories, and histories, which it has absorbed.

Jeremy Millar (b.1970) is an artist living in Whitstable, and tutor at the Royal College of Art, London. He has exhibited widely nationally and internationally, including the National Maritime Museum, London; Camden Arts Centre, London; CCA, Glasgow; and quartier21, Vienna. His most recent work, 'The Oblate', a three-hour film of a Benedictine monk binding a first edition of J-K- Huysman's novel L'Oblat (1903), was commissioned by John Hansard Gallery, Southampton, for artSOUTH, and opened this week at Southampton City Art Gallery.

Follow the progress of the conservation via the Freud Museum Facebook page.


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