Imperial magnificence can be like ice cream – wonderful, but at some point you just can’t face another dollop of Baroque architecture, even if it does come with Rococo sprinklings.
Vienna’s Museumsquartier (Museum Quarter or MQ) is the hummus and organic celery option.
Tasty, modern, alternative, urban, and home to some pretty impressive art museums…a place of vibrant culture, a place to relax, a place to wonder what the artist was smoking when he came up with THAT idea.
Opened in 2001, the Museumsquartier is a pedestrianized complex of modern art museums, cultural venues, bars, shops and restaurants with regular events and exhibitions. Perhaps most famous for the huge Schiele collection in the Leopold Museum. Access to the complex is free, but you need to buy tickets for individual museums and most exhibitions.
Museums and attractions
The three main attractions within the MQ (for visitors) are:
- Leopold Museum (Schiele, Klimt and more)
- MUMOK (Museum Moderner Kunst – Museum of Modern Art)
- Kunsthalle (temporary exhibitions)
But the MQ hosts way more than these three. For example:
- Zoom Kindermuseum (for children)
- Architecture center
- Shops, cafes, bars, restaurants and freely-accessible exhibitions
- The Winter at the MQ winter event
- The Weihnachtsquartier design market
Each institution within the MQ has its own opening hours and sells its own tickets. However:
- The three main attractions (Leopold Museum, MUMOK, Kunsthalle) are included in the Vienna Pass*.
- The MQ Point (info centre and shop at the main entrance) sells discounted combination tickets. An “MQ Art Ticket”, for example, covers those three main sites and costs €26 at the time of writing. It’s open from 10 am to 7 pm, every day, but check the official website for up-to-date times, ticket options etc.
- Other opening times vary, but don’t ever expect much to happen before 10 am. However, with all those cafes and restaurants, you can enjoy a breakfast coffee while you wait for your museum to open.
- In the summer, open-air bars appear in the main courtyard. The evenings turn the MQ into a scene of relaxed revelry.
- Look for little surprises around the MQ complex. For example, an entrance passageway in the southeast has a spooky ceiling fresco by French artist Stéphane Blanquet.
- If you don’t want to pay to go into a museum, you can still pick up arty trinkets and art books (mostly in German, of course) from the MQ Point and adjoining bookstore.
- MQ events take place throughout the year, so don’t be surprised to find a temporary art installation, concerts or even a curling rink in one of the courtyards.
On a dark, still night, you might pick up the scent of a stallion and the whispered commands of an imperial groom. Or not.
The site was once the Habsburgs’ stables, built in the early 18th century and housing hundreds of animals and dozens of coaches and carriages. The architect responsible – Fischer von Erlach – also designed Schönbrunn Palace.
How to get to the MQ
Subway: travel to the “Museumsquartier” stop on the U2 line. The MQ is quite big, so is also adjacent to the “Volkstheater” stop on the U2 and U3 lines. There are various entrances, but the three main ones are marked on the map.
Tram: the 49 line stops at Volkstheater.
Bus: the 48A also stops at Volkstheater.
There’s an underground car park just in front of the MQ, a reasonably-priced Contipark Parkgarage.