Lonely Planet review
This museum is named after Rudolf Leopold, a Viennese ophthalmologist who, on buying his first Egon Schiele (1890–1918) for a song as a young student in 1950, started to amass a huge private collection of 19th-century and modernist Austrian artworks. In 1994 he sold the lot (5266 paintings) to the Austrian government for €160 million and the Leopold Museum was born.
The building is in complete contrast to the MUMOK, with a white, limestone exterior, open space (the 21m-high glass-covered atrium is lovely) and natural light flooding most rooms. Considering Rudolf Leopold’s love of Schiele, it’s no surprise the museum contains the largest collection of the painter’s work in the world: 41 paintings and 188 drawings and graphics. Among the standouts are the ghostly Self Seer II Death and Man (1911), the mournful Mother with Two Children (1915) and the caught-in-the-act Cardinal and Nun (1912).
Other artists well represented include Albin Egger-Lienz, with his unforgiving depictions of pastoral life, Richard Gerstl and Austria’s third-greatest expressionist, Kokoschka. Of the handful of works on display by Klimt, the unmissable is the allegorical Death and Life (1910), a swirling fusion of people juxtaposed by a skeletal grim reaper. Works by Loos, Hoffmann, (Otto) Wagner, Waldmüller and Romako are also on display.
Audio guides are available for €3, as are free guided tours in German at 3pm on Sunday. On the top floor is Café Leopold.