Vienna has ophthalmologist Rudolf Leopold to thank for this splendid museum within the MuseumsQuartier. Leopold was a young student in 1950 when he bought his first Egon Schiele for a snip, and went on to amass a staggering private collection of 5266 paintings, mainly 19th-century and modernist Austrian artworks. In 1994 he sold them all to the Austrian government for €160 million (around a fifth of their value individually). Hip bar Café Leopold is on the top floor.
Behind its white, limestone exterior, the museum has plenty of 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 artist’s work: 41 paintings and 188 drawings and graphics. Among the standouts are the ghostly Self-Seer II (Man and Death) (1911), the mournful Mother with Two Children (1915) and the caught-in-the-act Cardinal and Nun (Caress) (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 Adolf Loos, Josef Hoffmann and Otto Wagner are also on display.