Five. That’s how many art museums we made it to in Vienna. I think we managed to see at least one Gustav Klimt painting in each museum. Considering that he was Viennese, I had hoped to see even more of his work during our trip, but perhaps it is spread around more widely.
Even though the Albertina museum had only this one Klimt, I still greatly enjoyed the rest of the collection. The museum allows photography, and I happily snapped away. You can browse the collection here to see what you like. Currently there is an extensive Miro special exhibition – also delightful.
The grand entrance to the collection in the Albertina.
The Viennese Secession. This movement which started in 1897 by a group of artists sought to create new art outside of historical tradition. Klimt was one of the original members of this group. A small building, the Secessionist Exhibition Hall houses Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze in the basement which has undergone a huge restoration. No photos allowed, so you have to search the internet to see the work. You can also watch this youtube video which talks about the the meaning of the work and its history.
Many people might not want to pay the price of admission for one work of art (the two other installations were not very captivating to us), but we were happy to. We spent a good 15-20 minutes or so just soaking in the Beethoven Frieze.
The Belvedere Palace and Museum/s is as massive as the Secession Building is intimate. It also contains Klimt’s famous The Kiss and several rooms of his works. We could have gone into several of the other museums on these massive and impressive grounds, but we preferred to enjoy the upper gallery at a slower pace. The Leopold Museum, a relatively new Viennese museum, is currently running a special exhibition of Giacometti’s works, almost solely from the Zürich Kunsthaus. We weren’t allowed to photograph them there, although we could (and did) when they were here in Zürich. Part of the museum’s charm are the huge picture windows with city views. More Klimt at the Leopold. And one of the Egon Schiele works there. Coincidentally, there is a large special exhibition right now of Schiele’s works at the Zürich Kunsthaus. Back to the ornate and incredibly grand (the Leopold is in the shape of a white box), we walked in the rain across the street from the Leopold to the Kunsthistoriches Museum. The collection in this amazing building ranges from Ancient Egypt, Greek and Rome to 16th and 17th C. European paintings. The one Klimt here is over the grand staircase and is far enough away that a spotting scope is set up so you can get a better look at the detail from across the way. Many of the rooms look like this, and we skipped many of them . . . until we came to the room filled to the gills with Breugel’s paintings. I think that just about every single work of his that I know is in that room. I wandered around the perimeter at length. And, we had to look at the Ancient Egyptian Collection, as well. If I were to spend a long period of time in Vienna (next sabbatical?), I would not try to see five art museums in three days. I would spread them out over time so that I could really enjoy them at a leisurely pace. But when you have three days, you do what you can.