One of the largest of its kind in the world, the MuseumsQuartier—or MQ, as many call it—is a sprawling collection of galleries housed in what was once the Imperial Court Stables, the 260-year-old baroque complex designed by Fischer von Erlach. Between the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Spittelberg neighborhood, it's in one of Vienna's hippest enclaves. Where once 900 cavalry horses were housed, now thousands of masterworks of the 20th and 21st centuries are exhibited, all in a complex that is architecturally an expert and subtle blending of historic and cutting-edge: the original structure (adorned with pastry-white stuccoed ceilings and rococo flourishes) was retained, while ultramodern wings were added to house five museums, most of which showcase modern art at its best.
The Architekturzentrum, Kunsthalle, Leopold Museum, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, and the ZOOM Kinder Museum are all part of the MuseumsQuartier complex. In addition, the Quartier21 showcases up-and-coming
artists and musicians in the huge Fischer von Erlach wing facing the Museumsplatz. Lovers of modern art will find it easy to spend at least an entire day at MuseumsQuartier, and with several cafés, restaurants, gift shops, and bookstores, won't even need to venture outside.
Leopold Museum. Filled with the pieces amassed by Rudolf and Elizabeth Leopold, this square, white museum contains one of the world's greatest collections of Austrian painter Egon Schiele, as well as impressive works by Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka. Other artists worth noting are Josef Dobrowsky, Anton Faistauer, and Richard Gerstl. Center stage is held by Schiele (1890–1918), who died young, along with his wife and young baby, in the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. His colorful, appealing landscapes are here, but all eyes are invariably drawn to the artist's tortured depictions of nude mistresses, orgiastic self-portraits, and provocatively sexual couples, all elbows and organs. MuseumsQuartier, Museumsplatz 1, A-1070. 01/525–700. www.leopoldmuseum.org. €11. June–Aug., Fri.–Wed. 10–6, Thurs. 10–9; Sept.–May, Wed. and Fri.–Mon. 10–6, Thurs. 10–9. U-Bahn: U2 MuseumsQuartier; U2 or U3/Volkstheater.
Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig. In a sleek edifice constructed of dark stone, this museum—known to locals by the slightly odd acronym MUMOK—houses the national collection of 20th-century art. Spread over eight floors, the collection is largely a bequest of Peter Ludwig, a billionaire industrialist who collected modern art that was the cream of the crop. The top works here are of the American pop-art school, but all the trends of the last century, from Nouveau Réalisme to Viennese Actionism, vie for your attention. Names include René Magritte, Max Ernst, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Cy Twombly, and Nam June Paik, to name a few. Kids will make a beeline for Claes Oldenburg's walk-in sculpture in the shape of Mickey Mouse. MuseumsQuartier, Museumsplatz 1, A-1070. 01/525–000. www.mumok.at. €9. Tues., Wed., and Fri.–Sun. 10–7, Mon. 2–7, Thurs. 10–9. U-Bahn: U2/MuseumsQuartier; U2 or U3/Volkstheater.
Kunsthalle Wien. The gigantic rooms here are used for temporary exhibitions of avant-garde art, including photography, video, film, and new-media projects. The museum prides itself on finding artists who break down the borders between the genres. MuseumsQuartier, Museumsplatz 1, A-1070. 01/521–8933. www.kunsthallewien.at. €8.50. Fri.–Wed. 10–7, Thurs. 10–10. U-Bahn: U2 MuseumsQuartier; U2 or U3/Volkstheater.
Architekturzentrum Wien. Besides the permanent show of Austrian architecture in the 20th and 21st centuries, the center holds major exhibitions presenting the breadth of architecture history and visions of what is to come. MuseumsQuartier, Museumsplatz 1, A-1070. 01/522–3115. www.azw.at. €7. Daily 10–7. U-Bahn: U2/MuseumsQuartier; U2 or U3/Volkstheater.
ZOOM Kinder Museum. Kids of all ages can enjoy various areas of this museum. In the lab, they can experience the fine line between the real and virtual worlds, making screenplays come to life by becoming directors, sound technicians, authors, and actors. For the little ones there's an "ocean" where kids and parents enter a play area inhabited by magical underwater creatures. You must reserve at least one hour ahead. MuseumsQuartier, Museumsplatz 1, A-1070. 01/524–7908. www.kindermuseum.at. €5. By reservation only. U-Bahn: U2/MuseumsQuartier; U2 or U3/Volkstheater.