Vienna is known worldwide as a true centre of culture, and the famous MuseumsQuartier sits smack-bang in the heart of that. More than 60 cultural institutions, festivals and initiatives wow a conveyer belt of visitors, but there is more to the MQ than high culture — this is a true oasis in the calm in the centre of town. This magnificent setting has a history that stretches back over three centuries, to its early 18th-century beginnings as a grand imperial stable building with a stunning 400-metre wide Baroque facade. It became a brand-spanking new centre for modern art in 2001, and has gone from strength to strength ever since. So, how is the 2019 summer season shaping up?
The Wiener Symphoniker kicks things off on May 31 with what will surely be a stunning concert in the main courtyard. Speranza Scappucci takes the reigns to conduct a program full of southern spirit, with the invigorating Italian sun as the central theme. Expect pieces by Rossini, Verdi, Strauss and more. The Children’s Culture Course takes care of the needs of the young ones, with families invited to a comprehensive program between May 24 and 26, so anyone travelling with kids in tow should make a beeline for that.
On June 13 comes one of our favourite days out of the 365 that make up the calendar year, as the MQ SommerOffnung takes centerstage with free admission to all the venues along with a plethora of live concerts, tours and performances. The MQ has plenty going on at all times, but its summer roster is impressive enough to challenge any rival cultural centre on the planet.
The number of exhibitions is truly staggering. The impressive ‘Dance of Urgency’ is one of the most intriguing, a fascinating exploration of the symbolism of all forms of dance, from social to ritual. There is more to dance than the simple movements of the body, and the great art has long been a vehicle for all manner of human developments, be they romantic or cultural. Serbian director Bogomir Doringer is the curator of this one.
The list goes on and on, from a retrospective of Oskar Kokoschka at the Leopold to Liam Gillick & Gelatin’s ‘Stinking Dawn’ at the Kunsthalle Wien or ‘Critical Care’ at the Architekturzentrum Wien, there really is something for everyone at the MQ this summer. It isn’t all exhibitions and live music of course. July and August are given over to the popular literature festival O-Tones, while the famous frame(o)ut digital film festival enters its 12th year during the same period.
And even if you aren’t looking for cultural fulfilment and artistic inspiration, the MuseumsQuartier is an absolute must-visit when in Vienna. The 7th district sensation is one of the Austrian capital’s most iconic spots, a must-visit attraction even without its plethora of magnificent institutions taken into account. If you want to experience Vienna at its most marvellous, get your buns to the MuseumsQuartier this summer. We’ll see you there.
If you’re looking to get to know the area just a little better, why not take a special tour of the MQ? The amount on offer here can be a little overwhelming, so what better way to fully engage with it than by being guided through its fascinating story, from the past to the present to the future. There are a number of tours available, offering an exciting insight into the history of baroque court stables along with the emergence of one of the world’s largest living cultural districts. The KaiserQuartier Tour takes care of the imperial stuff, a part of the story that can be overlooked when faced with the sheer immensity of the art on offer, while the Q21 Backstage Tour goes deep into the creative room of the same name. Q21 is the alternative art centre of Austria, so anyone into the unorthodox must make this tour a definite port of call.
Formerly the imperial court stables, the MuseumQuarter Wien complex now functions as a lively meeting point for young artists, musicians and students. The ten museums and venues housed here focus on fostering the creation of art as well as its appreciation, so exhibitions, performances and workshops in a range of disciplines (as well as free wireless internet) are offered to the public year-round. In warm weather, the central courtyard features a pétanque field, mini-racecar track, outdoor bars and restaurants, and distinctive brightly coloured outdoor couch-like Enzis, so you can grab a cold beer and get to know the locals. Keep an eye on the schedule for their indoor and outdoor events in both summer and winter.
The Austrian Museum of Architecture is an internationally respected institution, and it doesn’t take long to understand why. The history and development of architecture in a country defined by the art is extensively documented, explored and celebrated here, with permanent exhibitions alongside workshops, guided tours, city exhibitions and more than 500 special events throughout the year. This is one of the most credible homages to architecture on the planet, and has long served as a comprehensive hub for researchers from all over the globe.
Behind the elegant Baroque façade of the Museumsquartier building, the Kunsthalle is one of the most vibrant contemporary art venues in Europe, and Vienna's main exhibition space for contemporary art. Expect themed group exhibitions, exciting solo exhibitions, retrospectives and works by emerging artists. The Kunsthalle has a second space on Karlsplatz, at (B-3) Treitlstrasse 2.
Inside the Museum Quarter complex, the sleek white Leopold Museum boasts the world’s largest collection of work by expressionist Egon Schiele, as well as important pieces by Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka and other major Austrian artists from the 19th and 20th centuries. The architecture of the Leopold Museum, a light-filled cube of white shell limestone, stands in striking contrast to the historic ambience of the Imperial Stables.Tip: The museum’s panorama windows offer a wonderful view of central Vienna and the Hofburg Palace.
The Mumok, short for Museum Moderner Kunst, is Austria’s leading centre for modern and contemporary art. It stands for cosmopolitanism, progress and artistic diversity of the highest quality. Occupying an impressive black basalt block in the Museumsquartier, it hosts an exceptional collection that has given it a standing that extends far beyond Vienna’s borders. While Mumok’s collection forms the basis of the exhibition programme, they put on four exhibitions per year in collaboration with international partners.
The ZOOM is Austria’s only museum dedicated to children up to 14 years old. The exposition is divided into four areas – main exhibit, ocean, studio and animated film centre – and is designed to make cultural and scientific information as comprehensible to kids as possible. The focus is on games and play, as well as on sensory cognitive process. Kids are encouraged to ask questions and make things of their own. Teenagers can create animated films or even record their own pop songs. An ideal place for families to spend a stimulating afternoon.