Stefan Hobmaier takes us around the Museumquartier in Vienna, one of the city’s most creative hotspots.
The Museumsquartier (MQ), right next to the famous Hofburg Palace on the brink of Vienna’s old town, is one of the world’s biggest art complexes.
Located in the baroque buildings of the former imperial stables, it houses a number of museums, art spaces, cafés and shops in an area of over 640,000 square feet.
Founded in 2001, the Museumsquartier quickly became one of the trendiest and most popular neighborhoods amongst Vienna’s habitants and visitors.
When visiting the MQ on a sunny day, it’s popularity becomes very visible: Locals and visitors enjoying the sun on the terrace of a beautiful, bustling café, or relaxing on one of the many “Enzi“ (colorful furniture you can lie or sit on) in the central plaza.
Taking in the buildings around this crowded main square, your attention is caught by two striking buildings in the Museumsquartier: The Leopold Museum and the Museum of Modern Art (Mumok).
The Leopold Museum focuses on Austrian modern art and houses the world’s biggest collection of Egon Schiele, the famous Austrian painter. The museum is also home to many masterpieces by the founder of the Vienna Secession movement (and Schiele’s mentor), Gustav Klimt.
The Mumok on the contrary, has a broader and more global approach – its collection features some of the most important artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. The gallery has over 9000 works in total including pieces from Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Yoko Ono amongst many others.
A number of important pieces from the Classical movement by artists including Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee are also displayed in changing exhibitions.
These two contemporary buildings function as a harsh contrast to the decorative baroque surroundings and they are outstanding examples of Vienna’s progressive modern architecture.
Right below the Mumok you can find the entrance to Kunsthalle. It doesn’t house a permanent collection but works as an open forum. Within its innovative and extraordinary exhibitions, it features and discusses international contemporary art and is one of the most exciting art spaces in Vienna.
On the opposite side of the complex, right next to the main entrance you will find the Buchhandlung Walther König. This very well organized bookshop, is located in a beautiful hall and is full to bursting of exhibition catalogues, modern art publications, and photography, design and architecture books. This bookshop is a work of art in itself!
Take a break for a chance to rummage through your newly purchased books and visit one of the great cafes or restaurants in the same building. You could enter “Kantine” right next door to the bookshop, or even better, walk over to Archtiekturzentrum and the beautiful “Café Corbaci”. It has a great selection of local food and drinks and is worth a visit to see the extraordinary tiled ceiling alone!
After that you should check out what Q21 has to offer. Spread out across over 7000 square meters within the Museumsquartier , it is intended to be both a workspace for cultural initiatives, and a creative space with an artist-in-residence program. There are modern art exhibition spaces that are open to public including “Freiraum“, the “Electric Avenue“ and various artistic passageways that connect MQ’s courtyards and showcase lots of artists work.
To finish your visit at Museumsquartier, you should definitely take a walk around the whole district – along its narrow alleyways and in the hidden courtyards you can find hidden art and interesting buildings around every corner.
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