Image by Carly Hulls Lonely Planet
Part of the MuseumsQuartier, the Leopold Museum is named after ophthalmologist Rudolf Leopold, who, after buying his first Egon Schiele for a song as a young student in 1950, amassed a huge private collection of mainly 19th-century and modernist Austrian artworks. In 1994 he sold the lot – 5266 paintings – to the Austrian government for €160 million (individually, the paintings would have made him €574 million), and the Leopold Museum was born. Café Leopold is located on the top floor.
The Leopold has 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 (1890–1918), it’s no surprise the museum contains the world's largest collection of the painter’s work: 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 amalgam of people juxtaposed by a skeletal grim reaper. Works by Loos, Hoffmann, Otto Wagner, Waldmüller and Romako are also on display.