Have you ever been to Museums Quartier in Vienna? Spreading over 90,000m2 with 60 cultural institutions, it’s not only one of the world’s largest art and cultural areas, but also a place of relaxation in the city center with its many courtyards, small cafés, and hidden stores. So that you don’t feel overwhelmed by this vast offer, we have put together a guide on how to spend the perfect day at MQ Vienna. Enjoy!
If you have been to Museums Quartier (MQ) before, you might have already wondered about its distinct architecture with its numerous courtyards. The complex was actually built in the early eighteenth century to function as the imperial stables. Over time, modern buildings were added, which now create the unique vibe of this area with its mix of baroque and contemporary architecture. Today, Museums Quartier is characterized for being a meeting place for not only the Viennese public and visitors from all over the world, but also for cultural workers, artists, and creative entrepreneurs. They all come together in this spot to make MQ its own vivid, creative, and multicultural district in the middle of the city. Entry to the area is free of charge, so even if you are not planning on visiting an exhibition or restaurant, you can drop by to hang out and pass the time on the famous and unique furniture you will find in its several courtyards.
But what if you actually want to spend a full day there to experience MQ to the fullest? The vast possibilities can be a little overwhelming but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. With our guide, you’ll get to know our favorite and most recommended spots to make the most out of your visit.
Start your day at a Café
With a full day of cultural activities ahead of you, you don’t want to start the day on an empty stomach. We recommend Café Leopold, belonging to the Leopold Museum, to enjoy a delicious breakfast. Café Leopold describes itself as having an Asian-Viennese fusion kitchen, so why not try something new, for instance, their ‘’Panda Breakfast’’ comprising of Dim Sum variations? When the weather is good, you can sit at the tables outside by the fountain and marvel at the gigantic, colorful whale art installation before you. This steel sculpture by artist Mathias Gmachl is a call to action for the careful treatment of nature.
Once you’re done with breakfast, head over to the stairs leading up to the Leopold Museum. The Leopold Museum is known for housing the largest collection of artworks by Egon Schiele, including several of his famous self-portraits and landscapes as well as some of his large-scale works such as “Levitation” and “The Hermits”. It also always houses various temporary exhibitions. We want to point out the current exhibition “Inspirational Beethoven – a Symphony in Pictures from Vienna 1900” that you can still visit till June 6th. Viennese Art-Nouveau artist Josef Maria Auchentaller was inspired by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 to paint a series consisting of five images for his father’s music room representing the movements of a Beethoven symphony. It is unique in the tradition of music rooms, which had their heyday around 1900. On the occasion of Beethoven’s 250 birthday, this specific ensemble is displayed in Austria for the first time, and its history is highlighted in this focused exhibition.
Take a little break
After delving into all these artworks and masterpieces, we bet you have worked up an appetite, so let’s search for a good place for lunch. We recommend Café Restaurant Corbaci, which is the perfect location for a quick lunch, or simply a coffee and cake, in case you’ve indulged a little too much at breakfast. Corbaci’s emphasis is on regional, seasonal, and light Austrian cuisine. If you’re looking for some dish inspiration, we traditionally recommend the Styrian fried chicken salad with pumpkin seed oil cream.
Enjoy modern art at the mumok
Our next location is the hulking grey building to the right of Café Leopold, seemingly built out of cubes. You might have already heard of the mumok – Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien – because it is indeed the largest museum of modern and contemporary art in central Europe. Its extraordinary collection displays major works of classical modernism, pop art, minimal art, and many more and features artists such as Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Albert Oehlen. Currently, you can visit a well-received exhibition by Kapsch Contemporary Art Prize winner 2020, Hugo Canoilas. In “On the extremes of good and evil”, he critically deals with contemporary developments, and, along with using the traditions and history of painting and object art, references sociopolitical developments and art-theoretical discourses with his installational and performative strategies.
Visit the Creative Space Q21
Another important part of MuseumsQuarter is the creative space Q21 which spreads across more than 7,000m2. Q21 is basically in charge of bringing the “creative” aspect into the whole complex. It does so in providing a workspace for around 50 initiatives and organizations from the cultural sector, ranging from international film festivals to fashion boutiques. As the Q21 tenants operate autonomously, some of them run small showrooms or stores or have just rented out office spaces. However, our highlights are the artistic passageways. So if you’re feeling like going on a little walk after lunch, we invite you to discover these unique passageways which connect the various courtyards and can be seen as outdoor micro museums! Our favorites are “Sternenpassage” and “KABINETT Comic Passage”. Sternenpassage (Star passage) is a micro-museum for light phenomena. Curated by Sabine Jelinek, it presents various artists whose works center around photography and illumination. The works are presented across four illuminated circular display cases on the wall that is combined with telescope images of outer space.
In the “KABINETT comic passage”, as you might have already correctly guessed, you can find all kinds of art installations relating to comics. The passage also included a vending machine where you can purchase the actual publications accompanying the exhibitions.
Sip on a cocktail above the Museums Quartier
Last but not least, we want to share one of Vienna’s newest highlights with you. We are closing the circle now and ending up back at the Leopold Museum, and more precisely, its rooftop.
Opened in September of last year, MQ Dragonfly, Vienna’s most beautiful cultural terrace, offers a stunning view from the Vienna hills to the city center. Named after its distinctive dragonfly shape, MQ Dragonfly represents the creation of a new space for art and cultural projects just right over the rooftops of Vienna.
Our tip: grab yourself an “Aperol Spritz” or “Weißer Spritzer” at kiosk “Zur Libelle” and enjoy the sundowner over Vienna with this magnificent and unique view. Don’t forget to take some nice pictures! Cheers!