The Freud Museum

Exhibition Archive

19 July 2017 - 10 September 2017

Play and Psychoanalysis at the Freud Museum London


‘It is only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.’
  - Donald W. Winnicott

We all play. We all need play. But how do we define play? Play is at the core of development, of creativity, of mental health. It is a source of fun, a way of dealing with anxieties, of creating something new, of building relationships. It helps to define who we are and what we can do. 

Exploring play and its many meanings in psychoanalysis, this exhibition will look at play in the work of Sigmund and Anna Freud, Melanie Klein and Donald W. Winnicott, and how approaches to play, within and outside of the clinic, have developed since Sigmund Freud’s lifetime. Was play controversial and why? How was it used in clinical sessions? Why do we all need to play?

The exhibition will include works made by children in workshops at children’s charity UP: Unlocking Potential, a centre for vulnerable children. They used soft materials to make models of teddies and superheroes, hands and animals. Artworks by adult artists that explore or subvert notions of play will sit next to the children’s works.

Games and Interviews with key figures in the field (as well as people who just like to play) will be available on audio visual devices that will punctuate the exhibition. PLAY aims to be informative and interactive, seeking to entice people of all ages to play at the Freud Museum, with an open invitation: Come and play!

Exhibition kindly supported by Arts Council England and Kings College London

Kings College London will be hosting a conference in conjunction with the exhibition: Anna Freud and Play on Friday 15 September 2017 at King’s College London. For Call for Papers Click Here

Related Resources

All exhibitions are free with admission - no need to book.

PLAY events run throughout the summer, including:

Game On! An Evening of Board Gaming for Grown ups - Thursday 20 July, 6-9pm

Slime Time Children's Workshops for 5- to 14-year-olds - Saturday 22 July and Saturday 5 August, 1-3pm

Talk: Unleash Your Play Brain to Play Your Way Towards a Happier Adulthood - Sunday 6 August, 2pm

Artist's Talk: Paulina Yurman - Wednesday 9 August, 2pm

Afternoon Talk: Freud and Play, with Deputy Director Ivan Ward - Thursday 10 August, 2pm

The Mimetic Memory Bank: Playing With Our Memories. drop-in workshop for all ages Saturday 19 August, 1-3.30pm

House of Fairy Tales: Art in the Dark. Workshops for all ages - Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 August, 12-5pm

PLAY Drawing Day: Children's Workshop 11am-12pm, Workshops for all ages 1-5pm - Saturday 2 September



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