Between Oedipus and the Sphinx: Freud and Egypt

7 August 2019 to 27 October 2019

Visit the exhibition online: Online Stories Between Oedipus and the Sphinx: Freud and Egypt

This new exhibition explores Freud’s enduring fascination with Egypt evident both in his writings and in his collection of antiquities.


Egyptian artefacts form the largest part of Freud’s collection and lie behind his ‘archaeological metaphor’ – one of his most productive methods for exploring the psyche and developing the practice of psychoanalysis.

Human headed Ba-bird, Ptolemaic Period 323 BC – 30 BC

Freud thought about the archaeology of the mind while advances in professional archaeology and Egyptology were developing. This fascinating new exhibition will bring Freud into dialogue with his contemporary Flinders Petrie, the first UK Professor of Egyptology, comparing their thoughts on archaeology and their respective collections of artefacts.

Exploring the themes of  Egyptomania, sexuality, death and more, objects from Freud and Petrie’s own personal collections will be displayed side by side.

A painting of Oedipus’ encounter with the Sphinx famously hung beside Freud’s couch. Nobody doubts the significance of Oedipus to the development of Freud’s thought but the presence of the Sphinx reminds us of his less celebrated interest in Egyptian culture.


Egypt’s role in Freud’s writing

Egypt played a prominent role in Freud’s writings. In his psychobiography of Leonardo da Vinci, Freud uses the Egyptian goddess Mut as the key to the artist’s sexual and creative identity. Egypt again takes centre stage in Freud’s final work Moses and Monotheism where he makes the scandalous claim that Moses was not a Jew but an Egyptian.

Oedipus and the Sphinx Freud and Egypt Mummy Mask

Gilded mummy mask, Egyptian Late Period

This summer exhibition will explore all these themes and more, with the opportunity to see some never-before displayed Egyptian treasures from Freud’s collection up close. The exhibition is included with admission.

In partnership with the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeologyat UCL, which is home to Flinders Petrie’s collection of ancient artefacts from the Nile delta.


Visit the Exhibition Online

Online Stories Freud & EgyptVisit our exhibition Between Oedipus and the Sphinx: Freud and Egypt online now. Explore the connections between psychoanalysis, life and art through our permanent and temporary exhibitions.



Freud and Egypt Events

The Freud Museum will host a series of events to accompany the exhibition.

15 September – Course: Freud and Egypt
25 September – Tour: Freud and Egypt Curator’s Tour
2 October – Talk: Before Freud: The Science of Dream Interpretation in Ancient Egypt
4 October – Talk: Nightmare Hieroglyphs
12 October – Conference: Freud and Egypt: Between Oedipus and the Sphinx

Freud and Egypt Press Coverage

“Freud’s Egyptomania is an absorbing theme”Martin Gayford The Spectator
Featured as one of the Royal Academy of Arts 10 art exhibitions to see in August

Martin Gayford from The Spectator reviews the exhibition Why was Sigmund Freud so obsessed with Egypt

“Egypt is overwhelmingly present in Freud’s work and, quite literally, in his workspace” Current World Archaeology Archaeology and the analyst

Apollo Between Oedipus and the Sphinx: Freud and Egypt

The Economist Horus line: Freud and Egypt

Exhibition Dates

7 August 2019 to 27 October 2019

Opening Times

Monday: Closed
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday – Sunday  : 12:00 – 17:00

Plan your visit to the Freud Museum:
opening times, directions and admission fees.