My favorite part of Vienna, Austria, is the Museumsquartier, or Museums Quarter. True to its name, it houses many museums, and I was able to enter the Leopold’s Museum, the Museum of Modern Art or Mumok. A few minutes down, one will reach the Albertina Museum, the Kunsthistorisches (Art History) Museum, and the Naturhistorisches (Natural History) Museum. I entered the first two.
Vienna’s collection of art is astounding. At Leopold’s, I was treated to the view of many of Egon Schiele’s works. Mumok has some of Gustav Klimt’s, too, along with other contemporary works, and I got acquainted to the Actionist movement in art. But if you have limited time to spend in Vienna, I’d say you can skip these two and head to Albertina and Kunsthistorisches instead.
Albertina used to be a palace built by Emperor Franz II for Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen, an 18th century monarch, for whom it was also named. It has a fountain in front, and the recently renovated facade was built in Neoclassical style. I felt truly fortunate to view Albrecht Durer’s famed drawings, the paintings of Russian avant-garde painters Mark Chagall and Kazimir Malevich and their followers, the giant woodcuts of Anselm Kiefer, and the abstract art of Erwin Bohatsch. All of these were compelling pieces that definitely made their mark in art history.
But the highlight of my visit was a viewing of the “From Monet to Picasso” permanent exhibit, featuring works in the Batliner Collection. According to the museum website, this collection features about 500 works covering 130 years of art history, from French impressionism to the present. I saw pieces by Joan Miro, Rene Magritte, Max Ernst, Franz Sedlacek, Oskar Kokoschka, Henri Matisse, Maurice De Vlaminck, Edvard Munch, and Pablo Picasso, representing the movements Fauvism, Impressionism, and Surrealism, all the way to Expressionism and Cubism. The even better part: The lighting throughout the museum is perfect (later I’ll tell you about the sad lighting at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam).
Meanwhile, the Kunsthistorisches is Museum is home to a breathtaking collection of pieces from seven millennia. I highly recommend a visit, because many of the items here were crafted by master artisans as gifts for the Habsburg royalty. There were truly exquisite masterpieces such as desk astronomical clocks, porcelain dishes, and tabletop sculptures, vessels inlaid with precious stones. There were many paintings by masters, too, and the museum interiors are jaw-dropping as well.
It is impossible to oversell these two places, and I can only hope you enjoy it as much as I obviously did.
Author’s Note: Richard Kimball Jr. is a travel junkie. He enjoys adventures all over the world. He is also a blogger. To read more about him, check out Richard Kimball Jr’s Travel Blog.