With only a few days in Petersburg, we had to prioritize. But there was no way I was letting this one slip past me again.
Four and a half years ago, I discovered almost by accident that there was a Sigmund Freud Museum of Dreams in St. Petersburg, open only Tuesdays and Saturdays (since then, or perhaps my memory is false, also Sundays). From the description I read — one that emphasized the museum as an “experience” for the senses of sorts — it sounded absolutely terrible. Needless to say, I desperately wanted to go. But sadly, it was not to be. Though I did get to Petersburg, along with a couple friends happy to join in on the absurdity, our only Tuesday or Saturday was on January 31, therefore the beginning of the essentially 10-day period when Russia shuts down. No work. No school. No museums. Just drinking, church, and banya. So, when Maki and I were in Petersburg this past weekend, it was on the short list of things to do. It did not disappoint.
The first room was dedicated to the history of Freud’s life. I was hoping it might enlighten me about why the museum even exists, but alas, no such luck. It’s brochure indicated it was founded in 1999, and was intended for people to use as they found necessary and helpful. The first room only had pictures, so it was a bit of a disappointment after Vienna’s museum, where you get to see things like HIS ACTUAL GLASSES. AND HIS PEN. But they did have one thing the Viennese museum lacked: the dark room.
Full of random quotes from Freud–in English, French, German, and Russian–that were incredibly difficult to make out in the dim lighting, as well as various pictures and objects recalling religious and assorted experiences, the room, I think, is intended to help you dig deep into your subconscious. Indeed, from the museum’s own website:
You must actively co-particpate in order to penetrate the hall of dreams. Some objects are barely discernible; some words can be deciphered only if you change your line of sight. As in a dream, we cannot make out everything; we cannot remember everything that emerges from the soul’s dark depths. In the end, we see what we see, and sometimes we can bring to consciousness what we want to see. The central section of the hall of dreams is a screen on which you can project your own images, your own waking dreams. Every visitor can find something of her own in our musem. Every visitor is free to experience the joy, surprise, and anxiety of encountering oneself, of coming face to face with her own innermost thoughts, dreams, and desires.
Pretty amazing. And if that wasn’t enough, we passed this upon exiting (well, also upon entering):
Sadly, the door was locked. I’ll let you interpret that one on your own.