Freud and China

A major new exhibition at the Freud Museum London explores Sigmund Freud's fascination with China

12 February 2022 to 26 June 2022

A new exhibition at the Freud Museum London explores Sigmund Freud’s relationship to China, Chinese culture and the Chinese objects and books in his collection.


‘All the Egyptians, Chinese and Greeks have arrived, have stood up to the journey with very little damage, and look more impressive here than in Berggasse’. Sigmund Freud, 1938

Collecting antiquities was one of Sigmund Freud’s greatest passions. Late in life he increasingly began to acquire Chinese pieces, to add to the ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman objects which make up the majority of his collection. Though they were smaller in number, his Chinese pieces were among the most treasured items Freud owned.

Sigmund Freud’s engagement with China also took other forms. Although he did not read widely about China, he still made ideas about the Chinese language central to his understanding of the interpretation of dreams. And he owned and loved pets of the dog breed known as ‘Chows’, to whom he gave names with a distinct ‘Chinese’ flavour.

In his lifetime Freud’s ideas had a considerable impact in China. His works began to be read and discussed there from around 1913, and several Chinese translations of his works appeared in his lifetime.

The exhibition dives into Sigmund Freud’s own
work – and psychoanalysis as a whole – in the context of Chinese art, history and culture.

Sigmund Freud with his beloved Chow Jofi, 1937 [IN/0123]

It explores Freud’s previously little-known Chinese collections and create new knowledge about Sigmund Freud’s connections to China. The show displays the Chinese objects within the Freud Museum collection, and examine China’s relationship with psychoanalysis.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fascinating and richly illustrated catalogue. Our public programme includes a major inter-disciplinary conference and a vibrant programme of talks and events.

Freud and China is curated by Craig Clunas, Professor Emeritus of the History of Art at the University of Oxford and the first holder of the chair to specialise in the art of China. The exhibition is generously supported by The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation.

Exhibition Dates

12 February to 26 June 2022

Details on planning your visit and making a booking can be found on our Visit page.

Opening Times

Wednesday: 10:30 – 17:00
Thursday: 10:30 – 17:00
Saturday: 10:30 – 17:00
Sunday: 10:30 – 17:00



Freud's desk and glasses

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Events - Freud and China

16 February – The Confucian Freud, online lecture by Howard Chiang

6 March — Freud’s Chinese Things: Contexts and Interpretations, international online symposium. Available On Demand.

30 March — The ‘Entanglement’ Between Lacanian Psychoanalysis and Chinese Thought, online lecture by Wu Guanjun. Available On Demand.

11 & 18 May – Freud and the Ancient World, course with Daniel Orrells held in-house at the Freud Museum

15 May — The Thinking Heart: Relationships and Mental Health in China, international online symposium, in conjunction with UK Mental Health Awareness Week

5 June – Consulting in China: A Mutual Exploration of Similarity Difference and Synergy, international half-day conference

19 June – Turning Within: Psychoanalysis and Buddhism for Times of Turmoil, online conference

'Freud & China' in 5 Objects - Introduced by Craig Clunas