The Leopold Museum in Vienna’s Museumsquartier (MQ) complex is synonymous with the name of Egon Schiele, but recently morphed into a more general art and design museum.
- Permanent exhibition on the period around 1900 (Vienna modernism)
- Important collection of Schiele’s works
- Numerous works by Klimt, Kokoschka, Gerstl, and similar
- Selected current/future exhibitions:
- See also:
- Tickets for the Leopold museum*
- Selected past Leopold exhibitions
- Art and design exhibitions in Vienna
Rediscovering Schiele (& more)
(Leopold Museum with the MQ Libelle on its roof; © Leopold Museum, Vienna; Photo: Ouriel Morgensztern)
The story of the Leopold Museum 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.
Unfortunately, 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 in the decades that followed.
Yet in 2011, for example, Sotheby’s sold Schiele’s Häuser mit bunter Wäsche (Vorstadt II) for almost £25 million.
Schiele’s reemergence owes much to the efforts of Rudolf and Elisabeth Leopold. They spent half a century putting together a huge collection of art, but also reestablishing Schiele as one of the world’s greats.
The couple’s collection forms the basis of the Leopold Museum. Schiele has pride of place in the archives but is just one of many great artists featured within: a redesign in early 2019 refocused the exhibition space on Vienna modernism as a whole.
Inside the Leopold Museum
The Vienna 1900 permanent exhibition forms the centrepiece of the museum and occupies 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 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, with several likely at any one time.
(View of the “Vienna 1900” exhibition © Leopold Museum, Wien; Photo: Lisa Rastl)
Shop and Café Leopold
The museum store carries the kind of items you’d expect: calendars, postcards, prints, and other typical mementos and designer goods.
Klimt dominates the themed products: I’m guessing The Kiss makes a more acceptable napkin than one of Schiele’s naked self-portriats (depends on the meal and company, though).
The Café Leopold is a mix of traditional coffee house, modern bar, and Asian restaurant. You can drop in without going into the museum, and they have a lovely outdoor section in the main MuseumsQuartier courtyard part of the year, too.
Tickets & visitor tips
The museum sits in the southern half of the MQ complex, to the left as you come through the main entrance.
(Booking service provided by Tiqets.com*, who I am an affiliate of)
- 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 can 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 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 November and December, as part of the Winter im MQ event, they traditionally project huge seasonal images onto the outer walls of the Leopold Museum. These change regularly and make a lovely backdrop while you grab a glass of hot punch.
- A Vienna Pass (read an in-depth review) gets you in once for free.
- If you enjoy the displays at the Leopold Museum, chances are you’ll like the MAK contemporary art and design museum, which also has a dedicated section covering turn-of-the-century Vienna.
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