Numbering among the top ten largest cultural parks in the world, Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier had its official grand opening in 2001, nearly 300 years after the Imperial City Stables were constructed in the 18th century. The baroque buildings have been transformed into facilities for trade fairs and exhibitions and contemporary architecture has been constructed to provide additional cultural facilities.
The area has museums of every shape and size and just about every art sector is represented from the large art galleries of the Leopold Museum and Mumok (Museum of Modern Art) through to a state of the art dance studio and art and cultural facilities for children. They merge together to form an absolutely amazing area of contrasts. The Leopold Museum has the largest collection of Egon Schiele in the world as well as masterpieces by Gustav Klimt, the founder of the Vienna Secession Movement. The Mumok building is beautiful and it is a showcase for a permanent collection of works from artists such as Mark Rothko, Robert Rauschenberg, Picasso, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, van Doesburg, Vassily Kandinsky, Franz West and Mondrian.
The centre of this architectural gem is Vienna’s largest open-air ballroom. Every summer the inner courtyard of the MuseumsQuartier transforms itself into a mecca for culture vultures. Dotted around this space are large pieces of weatherproof furniture (called Enzis by the locals) where visitors can chill, talk and be entertained by the outdoor art installations that are free for everyone. The Enzis resemble sunbeds and their colour changes every year. It is a great place for a picnic and the Veganista is the best place for ice cream and gelato in the whole of Vienna – it even has soya and rice milk versions. At night the whole place transforms into a modern open air eating and meeting point for mainly young people. Even if you aren’t a teenager any more the sight of youngsters enjoying the bars and cafes, persuades you that museums aren’t really boring places to visit.
Don’t forget to look through the cube’s windows (the building is a limestone cube); you’ll see breath taking views of the Imperial Palace and Marie Theresien Platz. Individual prices for the museums can be quite high so buy yourself a Museum Pass for the MuseumsQuartier, it is definitely worth it.
There are also some terrific art-related shops and a book store and there are a number of music and dance events that are free. For children there is a separate area with sandboxes, arty climbing gyms etc.