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He Had the World�s Most Famous Couch

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, had the world's best-known couch -- not because of any intrinsic beauty but because that piece of furniture has achieved iconic status over the years. The couch symbolizes the groundbreaking — and controversial — work Freud did as he studied the minds of his patients who lay on his sofa.

Sigmund Freud , half-length portrait, facing left, holding cigar in right hand Freud's psychoanalytic chair, ca. 1900

Freud was the subject of the Library of Congress exhibition "Sigmund Freud: Conflict & Culture." Few figures have had so decisive and fundamental an influence on the course of modern cultural history as Sigmund Freud. Yet few figures also have inspired such sustained controversy and intense debate. Freud's legacy continues to be hotly contested. The exhibition examines Freud's life and his key ideas and their effect upon the 20th century.

The Library of Congress is more than a Library, with an active and interesting schedule of exhibitions that are on view in the magnificent 1897 Thomas Jefferson Building. A virtual tour of the building is at this link. You can also see virtual exhibitions from the Library at the Exhibitions home page. There, more than 40 exhibitions — some of which are still on view in Washington, can be seen anytime.

"American Treasures" offers, among other items, the Library's "Top Treasures," such as James Madison's Copy of the Proposed Bill of Rights, seen here in one of only two known copies of the preliminary printing. These amendments to the Constitution were closely modeled on George Mason's Virginia Declaration of Rights, also one of the "Top Treasures." Go to the "Top Treasures" page to find out the other items the Library considers its most important in the history of America.

Bob Hope just marked his 100th birthday, and you can review a large part of the legacy of another sort of American treasure in the exhibition "Bob Hope and American Variety." Hope was featured in the November issue of the Wise Guide. You can see all the issues going back to the first in October 2002 in the Archives section of the site. From "Harley-Davidson at 100" to "Billie Holiday and her dog," the Wise Guide shows why "It's Fun to Know History."

A. Max Halberstadt, photographer. "[Sigmund Freud , half-length portrait, facing left, holding cigar in right hand]," ca. 1921. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction No.: LC-USZC4-4946 (color film copy transparency).

B. Freud's psychoanalytic chair, ca. 1900; Persian rug and cushions from Freud's psychoanalytic couch; (on wall) print of the rock-cut temples at Abu Simbel, after a painting by Ernst Koerner, 1906. Courtesy of the Freud Museum, London; from "Sigmund Freud: Conflict and Culture," a Library of Congress exhibition.

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