OK, so who gets immediately turned off by the word ‘museum’? Go on, raise your hands. Be honest. You think of dusty old dinosaur bones, or huge paintings with golden frames hanging on the wall, right?
Well, we gotta’ say – we expected more from you. In magnificent buildings around Vienna, some of the greatest art, and the most noteworthy history is on display. We’re talking about museums that house some of the greatest work created by some of the greatest minds.
To convince you even further, a museum visit pairs nicely with a Sunday brunch, a date in which you’re going for the intelligent look, or for those moments when you’re craving some pure inspiration on steroids.
We’ve made a list of some of the best museums in Vienna that you should visit at least once during your time in Vienna.
Albertina – Vienna museums you should visit
WED & FRI: 10am–9pm
What was once used as a Airbnb apartment set up by the Habsburg’s in which their guests lodged, is now hosting one of the most valuable art collections in the world.
Amongst its permanent exhibitions, it’s got some of art’s greatest hits, with over 100 paintings covering the period from Monet to Picasso. French impressionism and post-impressionism is aplenty on its walls, while there are also many Russian avant-garde works.To drop a few names hanging on the walls of the Albertina: Klimt, Matisse, Picasso, Monet, just to name a few. It also has regular note-worthy changing exhibitions.
© Albertina, Wien (Foto: Rupert Steiner), © Albertina, Wien (Foto: Harald Eisenberger)
Leopold Museum – Museums you should visit
WED–MON: 10am–18pm (THU until 9pm)
This museum is for all the passionate modernist art lovers, and especially for those with a particular fondness for modernist artists that have come out of Vienna.
The Leopold Museum has earned its fame and popularity from its large collection of the likes of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. It’s actually the largest number of Schiele’s work you’ll find in one place throughout the world. Besides these two giants, there’s also the Austrian expressionist, Kokoschka, hanging on the walls.
The interior gives you plenty of headspace to relieve your daily stress and simultaneously get a hold of all the thoughts that have been put into the art.
Good to know… the guy that is behind founding this museum was a student of the arts, and an avid art collector back in the 1950s. He bought his first Egon Schiele for peanuts.
Ausstellungsansicht “Richard Gerstl” © Leopold Museum, Wien, Foto: Leni Deinhardstein
Ausstellungsansicht „Wien 1900. Aufbruch in die Moderne“, 2019 002 & 010 © Leopold Museum, Wien Foto: Lisa Rastl
MAK – Museum of Applied Arts – Vienna museums you should visit
This good looking museum is a fascinating one that’s dedicated to craftsmanship, design and art forms that we all can find in our day to day lives. This means its rooms showcase anything from Oriental statues to unusual chairs.
Each floor of this beautiful building hosts a different style, including Renaissance, Baroque, Orientalism, Historicism, Empire, Art Deco and the distinctive work of the Wiener Werkstätte.
The MAK is also a frequent host of some of the most refreshing and unique exhibitions in the city. Cutting-edge contemporary artists are regularly stepping into the spotlight here.
We’d recommend… spending some quality time in the 20th century design and architecture room.
© MAK/Georg Mayer
Kunsthistorisches Museum – Vienna Museums you should visit
Daily from 9am–6am
THU, SAT & SUN 9am–9pm
Besides being a masterpiece of a building on its own, the Kunsthistorisches Museum holds some of the most impressive artworks produced in history. The museum is so huge, you can literally get lost in the art, and the buildng. It’s packed with Europe’s finest painters, sculptors and artisans, with it’s collections spanning from Classical Rome, to Egypt and the Renaissance. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the vastness of the art hanging on the walls here, or you’ve only got a limited amount of time to take it all in, just be sure to not miss the old masters in the Gemäldegalerie (Picture Gallery) in which you’ll catch the classic like Bruegel (including the Elder’s Tower of Babel), Raphael, and Velázquez.
Naturhistorisches Museum – Vienna museums you should visit
WED–MON: 9am–6:30pm (WED: 9am–9pm)
The Naturhistorisches Museum, the twin museum to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, tells the beautiful story of the evolution of planet earth. About four billion years is covered here, with about 30 million items on display. In the mix are dinosaurs – well, their bones only, of course – ancient fossils, minerals, and so many taxidermy species of animals that it’s kind of creepy. One of the highlights is the 25,000-year-old Venus of Willendorf statue that some say is the oldest piece of art in the world. Oh, and the meteorite collection is made up of 1100 pieces.
The building alone, with its stuccoed, frescoed halls and cupola, is enough of an impressive sight that alone makes this museum worth visiting.
Vienna’s Natural History Museum will surely bring out your inner child, and revive that curiosity for all of the world that will have you say, ‘look at that rock with a leaf print from thousands of years ago in it!’
Good to know… you can also do a tour of the roof, which boasts an amazing view from atop the magnificent building and you get a good look at the architecture of the place. Check out their website for details.
Also good to know… you have to check out their very popular Nacht im Museum (Night in the Museum) experience (adult/child €200/75). Both adults and kids get a torch/flashlight tour; and they get to sleep amongst dinosaurs! Check out their website for details.
Heeresgeschichtliches Museum – Vienna museums you should visit
Daily from 9am–5pm
The Heeresgeschichtliches Museum (The military museum) is a true treasure for anyone interested in history, especially (and obviously) military history. This is pretty much the only museum in Vienna in which you can learn something about Austrian history. Plus, it’s housed in an impressive neo-Byzantine barracks and munitions depot.
It’s got two floors to it, with exhibitions spanning from the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48) to World War Two, including the Hungarian Uprising, the Austro-Prussian War (ending in 1866), the Napoleonic and Turkish Wars, and World War Two.
By learning about the wars that have touched Austria over it’s long history, you’ll start to understand the make up of the country, and its people, in a whole different way.
We loved… the line scrawled accross this museum’s walls – “wars belong in museums.”
Technisches Museum Wien – Vienna museums you should visit
The Technisches Museum (Technical Museum) is the real deal for science, tech, and engineering nerds, or simply anybody who likes learning random facts about the creations of human innovation. The exhibition area spans over 22 000 m², with a lot of hands-on gadgets to interact with.
The history that it documents here in terms of inventions throughout history is incredible, and truly fascinating. Old-timer cars that you’ll find it hard to see anywhere else are on it’s exhibition floors, alongside a range of ancient bikes.
We also love putting on our captain hat, sitting in the trains and planes, and making ‘woot! woot!’ sounds.
© Technisches Museum Wien
The lesser-known weird and wonderful museums – Vienna museums you should check out
Apart from these classic museums of Vienna, the city has a wealth of small, weird and wacky museums. An abnormal amount, we’d go as far to say. For example, there’s a torture museum, a birth & contraception museum, and a Schnapps museum, just to name a few.
We’ve put together a whole guide dedicated to these weird, and somewhat random, museums for you to check out.