The Leopold Museum in the city’s Museumsquartier (MQ) is synonymous with the name of Egon Schiele, but recently morphed into a more general art and design museum with a focus on that incredibly creative period around 1900 (Vienna modernism).
- Art museum and home to the world’s most important collection of works by Schiele
- Features mainly late-19th and early-20th century Austrian artists and designers
- Numerous works by Klimt, Kokoschka, Gerstl, Moser, and others
- Also hosts regular temporary exhibitions. Current ones include:
- Standard adult tickets* are €14 or use the Vienna Pass for one-time free entry
- See also: Museums in Vienna | Klimt locations | Schiele locations
(Leopold Museum with the MQ Libelle on its roof; © Leopold Museum, Vienna; Photo: Ouriel Morgensztern)
The museum owes its name and collection to Rudolf and Elisabeth Leopold. The story begins over 100 years ago…
In 1918, Spanish flu robbed the world of artist Egon Schiele just as he was on the cusp of widespread acclaim. The distraction of rebuilding a continent (and destroying it again a few years later) meant people paid little attention to the works of this remarkable Austrian painter.
Schiele’s subsequent reemergence owes much to the Leopolds. They spent half a century putting together a huge collection of art, but also reestablishing Schiele as one of the world’s greats. In 2011, for example, Sotheby’s sold Schiele’s Häuser mit bunter Wäsche (Vorstadt II) for almost £25 million.
That collection forms the basis of the Leopold Museum, opened in 2001 and led by Rudolf until he passed away in 2010. A complete redesign in late 2018 / early 2019 refocused the exhibition space on Vienna modernism as a whole; Schiele may still have pride of place in the archives but is now one of many great artists featured.
Inside the Leopold Museum
The Vienna 1900 permanent exhibition forms the centrepiece of the museum, occupying three of its floors. This presents the birth, peak and afterlife of the Vienna modernist movement, beginning with its origins and the likes of Hans Makart and ending with post-WWI developments.
Works by such famous names as Klimt, Kokoschka, Gerstl, Wagner, Hoffmann, Loos, Moser, Schoenberg, and others (and, of course, Schiele) occupy the bulk of the exhibition.
The remaining floors host regular temporary exhibitions, the shop, and a coffee house / restaurant.
Tickets & visitor tips
The museum sits in the southern half of the MQ complex, to the left as you come through the main entrance.
Some visitor tips:
- Look for a staffed cloakroom to the right of the main entrance (I paid €1 for my coat and bag to be checked in), with free-standing coat racks if you just want to hang up a garment
- Once you pass the ticket control, you enter a huge marbled hall. Go right for stairs and lifts to the other levels.
- The museum galleries are large, bright, and airy, with the works of art quite spread out. So it all feels very open and you’re not overwhelmed (which is helpful if you’re uncomfortable with darker themes and nudity – both of which feature heavily with the likes of Schiele).
- All information displays in the Leopold Museum are bilingual (English and German).
- The large windows on Level 4 give you good views across the Museumsquartier and the old city (unless the blinds are down). You can see the domes of the Volkstheater, Natural History Museum, Art History Museum, and even the distant Rathaus.
(For an even better view, go up to the roof using the lift on the outside of the building.)
- In December, as part of the Wintergarten at the MQ event, huge seasonal images are traditionally projected onto the outer walls of the Leopold Museum. These change regularly and make a lovely backdrop while you grab a glass of hot punch in the MQ courtyard. For example:
Shop and Café Leopold
The first floor houses the museum shop, which carries the kind of items you’d expect: calendars, postcards, prints, and other typical mementos and designer goods. Klimt dominates the themed items: I’m guessing The Kiss makes a more acceptable napkin than Seated male nude (depends on the meal and company, though).
The shop stocks plenty of books, too, including many in English. This is where to buy your guides to the museum or to the lives and works of the main artists featured within. (I bought “Egon Schiele: an illustrated life” by Roman Neugebauer).
The Café Leopold is a mix of traditional coffee house, modern bar and Asian restaurant. Since you can also enter the café without going into the museum, it opens longer.
How to get to the Leopold Museum
Subway: The closest subway station is Museumsquartier (on the U2 line). You can also wander through the MQ complex from the northern end if you get off at the Volkstheater station (on the U2 and U3 lines).
Tram/bus: The 49 tram and 48A bus also go to Volkstheater. The Leopold Museum is not far from the ring tram lines, either. Take the 1, 2, D or 71 to Burgring and it’s a short walk away.
Address: Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna | Website