Imperial magnificence can be like ice cream – wonderful, but at some point you just can’t face another dollop of baroque or neogothic architecture, even if it does come with rococo sprinklings. Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier (Museum Quarter or MQ) is the hummus and organic celery option.
- Pedestrianized complex of modern art museums, cultural venues, bars, shops and restaurants
- Hosts regular events and temporary exhibitions
- Access to the complex is free, but you need tickets for individual museums or the backstage tours*
- See also: Vienna Museums | Klimt in Vienna | Contemporary art
Museums and attractions
(A side entrance to the complex)
Opened in 2001, the MuseumsQuartier is 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 they came up with THAT idea.
The site once housed the Habsburgs’ stables, built in the early 18th century and caring for hundreds of animals and dozens of coaches and carriages. The architect responsible for those stables – Fischer von Erlach – also designed Schönbrunn Palace.
On a dark, moonless night, you might still pick up the scent of a stallion and the whispered commands of an imperial groom. Or not.
The three main attractions within the MQ (for visitors) are:
- Leopold Museum (famous for the huge Schiele collection)
- MUMOK (Museum of Modern Art)
- Kunsthalle (venue for temporary contemporary art exhibitions)
But the MQ hosts way more than these three. For example:
- The Libelle viewing platform and art venue
- Zoom Kindermuseum (for children)
- Architecture center
- The frei_raum Q21 exhibition space
- Current exhibition: Overground resistance
Numerous kiosks, cafés and restaurants inhabit the area, and all sorts of passageways and other locations offer space for art installations and similar.
The MQ Art Box, for example, features one of a changing series of installations. Past contributing artists include the likes of Daniel Spoerri and Jakob Gasteiger.
Ticket & visitor tips
(Front view of the MQ complex)
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 sightseeing pass
- The MQ Point (info centre and shop at the main entrance) sells combination tickets
- Opening times vary, but don’t ever expect much to happen before 10am. However, with all those cafes and restaurants, you can enjoy a breakfast coffee while you wait for your museum to open
(Painted ceiling in one of the archways)
- Tours in English* introduce you to the complex and take you behind the scenes
- In the warmer months, open-air bars appear in the main courtyard and the evenings see the MQ turn into a scene of relaxed revelry. The colourful temporary courtyard furniture has become an iconic image of summer in Vienna:
- Look for little surprises around the complex, particularly the ceiling frescoes in the various passageways
- 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. Events of interest to visitors include:
- Wiener Symphoniker – an annual (free) open-air concert from one of the world’s greatest orchestras (usually May or June)
- Winter Event – the MuseumQuartier’s alternative to a Christmas Market. More salsa than Santa (November and December). Look out for the light projections on the side of the Leopold Museum and the front of the main MQ entrance.
- Vienna Wine Fest – the first one was held in 2019, and I wonder if it might become an annual event (May?)
- Electric Spring – a two-day music festival featuring the best of hip hop, etc. (usually April when held)
- Frameout open-air cinema – an eclectic mix of movies to view in the MQ courtyard in summer (July and August)
- MQ Vienna Fashion Week – daily fashion shows and more, featuring designers from around the world (September)
- Weihnachtsquartier – a weekend exhibition and market showcasing local designers, held during Advent (late November / early December)
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 below.
Tram/bus: the 49 tram and 48A bus stop at Volkstheater. Other close-by stops are Getriedemarkt (bus 57A) and Ring/Volkstheater (trams 1, 2, D and 71).
There’s an underground car park just in front of the MQ: a reasonably-priced Contipark Parkgarage.
Address: Museumsplatz 1/5, 1070 Vienna | Website