Vienna has a recent addition to its roll call of viewing platforms. But the MQ Libelle is more than a lift and a nice view, thanks to its location slap bang in the middle of the MuseumsQuartier cultural complex.
- Views across into the old town
- Free entry
- Expect an artistic surprise or two up top
- Small kiosk café serves drinks and snacks
- Closes in winter (and on Tuesdays) at the time of writing
- …so check locally before going
- See also:
Viewing platform & art venue
(View down into the main courtyard of the MQ from the Libelle. The rings on the roof are part of the light installation by Brigitte Kowanz; press photo © Hertha Hurnaus)
Libelle is German for dragonfly, which offers a clue to the inspiration behind the same-named viewing terrace with its airy, slightly ethereal feel.
However, the insect metaphor alone doesn’t explain why the MQ Libelle is not your average panorama platform. But first things first…
The almost 1,000 m2 open terrace sits on top of the Leopold Museum, which is a rather fine art museum perhaps best known for its permanent exhibition around Vienna modernism (think Klimt and Schiele in particular).
The Leopold Museum resides in the main courtyard of the MuseumsQuartier (MQ): a complex of modern cultural institutions opposite various grand old buildings built by the Austro-Hungarian empire.
(View from the Libelle across toward the Kunsthistorisches and Naturhistorisches Museums)
So the Libelle’s location fits comfortably into the definition of central, offering views east toward the old town and over the square that hosts the venerable art and natural history museums.
(I used to tell folk to peek out the windows on Level 4 of the Leopold Museum because of the view. Going up to the roof makes for an even better experience.)
So, apart from the views, what else does the Libelle offer the discerning visitor?
First, being in the MQ gives the whole place a dynamic cultural feel.
In summer, for example, you look down on the main courtyard where the young and hip (but also the old and uncool like me) sample the outdoor bars and cafés or simply enjoy the sun on the MQ’s famous outdoor furniture (the colourful Enzis).
Second, the platform itself has its own art installations.
The Libelle building, which serves as an event location, includes a glass façade featuring a special design by Eva Schlegl.
Well over two million white dots of various sizes and in different densities create a remarkable impression, as if someone had placed a shimmering silk scarf around the outside.
Out on the terrace, Brigitte Kowanz’s three circles of mounted lighting provide a draw for the eyes, especially when viewed from afar.
(The silk scarf effect on the facade of the Libelle building)
Tickets and visitor tips
Opening hours are usually Wednesday to Monday from 10am to 10pm, but with the Libelle closed during the winter months. Check locally for specifics.
The location is free to visit; two outside lifts take you up, so you don’t need to enter the Leopold Museum to reach it.
The terrace has some seating so you can relax a while up top, enjoy the view, and contemplate the many existential questions raised by art, philosophy, literature, and the latest football match.
A small kiosk café serves snacks and drinks, though you have no obligation to eat or drink anything.
Other parts of the MQ offer small doses of free art, too. For example, look out for the Art Box installation below the Libelle and the passageways between courtyards.
And paid art comes in the form of the various museums and cultural insitutitons. As well as the Leopold Museum, you have, for example, the MUMOK modern art museum, Kunsthalle contemporary exhibition venue and the Architekturzentrum.
How to get to the Libelle
Follow the travel tips in the Leopold Museum article to find your way to the right building. The lift goes up from the west side of the museum, which is opposite to the side with the steps and main entrance.
Address: Museumsplatz 1/5, 1070 Vienna