Vienna’s MQ

A thriving new neighborhood emerges

By: Susan James

Over a four-year period, from April 1998 to Summer 2002, a fund of nearly $180 million provided by the Republic of Austria and the city of Vienna was spent to turn Austrian Emperor Karl VI’s old Viennese riding hall and its adjacent spaces into a complex of art museums, exhibition areas, art studios, shops, cafes, apartments and offices.

Called the MuseumsQuartier (MQ), three interlocking courtyards laid out in a row form the heart of this new hot spot, which lies not far from the traditional museums quarter.

A combination of university campus, Bohemian art district and Guggenheim on Sunday, the MuseumsQuartier offers 50 different facilities for art and culture. Within its nearly 200,000 square feet are two art museums, an art exhibition hall, a contemporary dance theater, a children’s museum, an architectural library and archive and seven cafes. It’s contemporary, exciting and crammed with creative possibilities.

There is a balance and harmony to the space, anchored by Fischer von Erlach’s Baroque stable block and flanked by the white limestone cube of the new Leopold Museum and the black basalt monolith of the equally new Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (MUMOK). Over 2.5 million visitors a year, nearly 10,000 per day in the summer, a third of them from outside Austria, are proof of the overwhelming success of the MQ.

Museums and More
In 1994, Austria spent nearly $200 million to purchase Austrian ophthalmologist Rudolf Leopold’s personal art collection of over 5,000 works of 19th- and 20th-century Austrian art. This was the genesis of the Leopold Museum, with its spacious interiors, enormous windows and natural lighting.

Across the MQ courtyard is the Leopold’s counterpart, MUMOK, Vienna’s contemporary art museum looking like a black and white and steel gray basalt bunker. It has nine floors and one window, its floors stitched together by the sliding transparent needle of an all-glass elevator.

In addition to the Leopold Museum and MUMOK, the third exhibition space in the MuseumsQuartier is the Kunsthalle Wien, an exhibition hall for temporary shows of contemporary art.

But it is not just as an exhibition quarter that the MQ stands out. It is a living space as well. There are shops and cafes, including the splendidly tiled Turkish-style cafe at the Architekturzentrum Wien. In summer, the courtyards host a variety of well-attended performances and musical events.


MuseumsQuartier Wien
Museumsplatz 1
A-1070 Wien
Tickets Online:

Leopold Museum
Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m., daily except Tuesday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m.,Thursday
Admission: $11; group price per person $8
(10 or more persons)

Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m., daily except Monday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Thursday
Admission: $10

Kunsthalle Wien
Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m., daily; 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Thursday
Admission: Combination ticket for Hall 1 and 2, $10

MQ Kombi Ticket: Combined ticket for all three venues including numerous extras,


The privately owned, four-star Pension Pertschy is located on four floors of the Palais Cavriani, built in 1734. It is located around the corner from Vienna’s main shopping street, the Graben, and is only a 10-minute walk from the MuseumsQuartier.

Pension Pertschy
Habsburgergasse 5
A-1010 Wien
Rates: Singles: $80, off-season; $70-$122, high season. Doubles: $104-$175, off-season; $152-$206, high season. Includes full breakfast.

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