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Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute & Society

The Age: Collection Reveals a Freudian Mind

September 1, 2007

Janine Burke recalls how she fell in love with the great psychoanalyst's extraordinary collection.

IT WAS 2003, AND ERICA Davies, the flamboyant director of the Freud Museum London, was introducing me to the staff. Alex Bento, who has been the museum's caretaker for many years, smiled broadly. "I remember you," he said. I'd visited the museum for the first time the year before when I'd fallen in love with Freud's art collection and decided to write a book about it. "You couldn't remember me," I protested. "Hundreds of people have been through here since then." He nodded. "You are the woman who could not leave."

On a sultry, summer afternoon, I caught the tube to Hampstead to visit the Freud Museum. I knew Freud had a collection of antiquities but I had no idea of its quality or scope. My knowledge of Freud was slight. I had been impressed by The Interpretation of Dreams but I knew nothing about the man's life, who he was, what made him tick. I was in England to research a biography of arts patron Sunday Reed, exploring the lavish, romantic gardens, such as Vita Sackville-West's at Sissinghurst in Kent, that influenced the style of garden Sunday and John Reed created at Heide.

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