A fantastic city to visit, Vienna is the cultural center of Austria and as such it has an amazing range of museums for visitors to revel in. An imperial city, Emperor Franz Joseph I came to the throne in 1848 and commissioned many of the fine institutions that we see dotted about the place today. For instance, the brilliant Art History and Natural History museums were founded by him, as were the fascinating Technisches and Military History musems.
One of the most beautiful capitals in the world, art and history combine delightfully in Vienna, in the shape of the stunning buildings and palaces that house the museums themselves. With extensive art collections for locals and foreigners alike to enjoy, Vienna’s museums are among the many highlights that the city has to offer.
A delightful museum that has a lot to offer, the Museum of Applied Arts is a lovely place to visit and its permanent exhibitions focus on arts, crafts and design. Opened in 1863, MAK’s speciality is contemporary art and architecture, with the inner courtyard being particularly lovely to gaze upon.
With lots to see and do, the museum successfully ties together the different themes on show, providing a compelling story of how different fields of design are intertwined and inspired by each other. On top of the large permanent collections that are exhibited, the MAK also regularly welcomes temporary exhibitions which often highlight up-and-coming contemporary artists.
11. Technisches Museum
Commissioned by Emperor Franz Joseph I, the Technisches Museum opened in 1918 and its extensive collections are dedicated to the field of technological innovations.
Looking at Austria’s contributions in the fields of technology, commerce and industry, there are lots of interesting exhibitions on display that delve into the history and evolution of various inventions. With installations on energy, mining and transport among the museum’s many highlights, it is well worth stopping by when in Vienna.
10. Third Man Museum
A classic film that was actually voted the best British film of the 20th century, part of ‘The Third Man’ was shot in the sewers in Vienna and that is where this museum is set: in the underground world below the city.
Exploring the sewers with a headlamp is a fun and adventurous affair in itself. Film lovers will enjoy recognizing parts that featured in the film and there is some lovely architecture on show. In addition to this, there are over three thousand objects on show that help to explain the historical context of the film.
9. Haus der Musik
Renowned for its composers and operas, it is no surprise that Vienna is also home to the wonderful Haus der Musik. A fun and entertaining museum for children and adults alike, the interactive installations take you through the world of sound, elucidating how music is made and how certain sounds are produced.
A well-thought-out place, there are lots of hands-on exhibitions for you to have a go at, such as individual steps on the staircase which act as piano keys.
8. Museum of Military History
One of the most important military history museums in the world, the huge complex where it is located was commissioned by Emperor Franz Joseph I and as such there is some lovely architecture in addition to the extensive collection of artifacts.
Documenting Austria’s military history, there is a stunning array of weapons, armaments, uniforms and more for you to check out and it certainly doesn’t pull any punches when exploring the darker parts of the country’s past.
With bloody uniforms on display, over five-hundred cannons proudly exhibited and a large collection of tanks, the Museum of Military History is definitely worth visiting as you’ll learn a lot about Austria’s history and the wars that it was a part of.
An amazing building to gaze upon, the KunstHaus Wien’s quirky exterior was designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser and the interior is equally mesmerising to explore due to the unique architecture on show.
Located in the Museum Quarter, it houses an exquisite exhibition of Hundertwasser’s works and there are lots of interesting architectural designs and graphic works on display for you to enjoy.
Set up in 1991, the museum also showcases an ever-changing range of temporary exhibitions which keeps the KunstHaus Wien a fun and fresh place to visit, even for visitors who have been before.
6. Leopold Museum
Exhibiting a wide range of Austrian art that dates from 1880 to World War I, the Leopold Museum’s delightful collection is well worth checking out when visiting Vienna. There are over six-hundred oil paintings on display and over three-thousand watercolors for visitors to enjoy.
Galleries featuring pieces from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements being among the most popular in the museum. With sculptures, porcelain, woodcarvings and more also on display; the Leopold Museum has a lot to offer.
5. Belvedere Palace Museum
The museum is located in the beautiful Belvedere Palace from which it takes its name and it is surrounded by some lovely gardens which are the perfect place for a relaxing stroll. Home to one of the most important art collections in the whole of the country, lots of great Austrian painters are exhibited here with the galleries dedicated to Art Nouveau and the Fin de Siecle movements being particularly brilliant to visit.
While there are loads of masterpieces on display, the undoubted highlight is Gustav Klimt’s beautiful paintings which are mesmerising to behold. Absolutely spectacular, ‘The Kiss’ and ‘Judith’ will make sure you never want to leave the Belvedere Palace Museum.
4. Sisi Museum
A revered figure who was renowned for her beauty, Empress Elisabeth or Sisi as she was known, married into the Hapsburg family and so became one of the most prominent celebrities of Europe in the 19th century.
Beloved by many, the museum is dedicated to her life and offers up an interesting look at what life as an aristocrat was like at that time. With over three hundred of her personal items exhibited, gloves, dresses, gowns and more are on display for visitors to gaze upon. Also on show are her luxurious imperial carriage and the eerie death mask that was taken of her face after she was assassinated.
With a colossal collection of drawings and watercolors, books and printings, the Albertina is home to the largest collection of graphic material in the world. Spanning over five centuries of art, the museum comprehensively looks at the different European schools that proved to be so influential and exhibits innumerable masterpieces by some of their most famous students.
Stunning pieces by Munsch, Goya and Picasso are among the museum’s main draws as are the works of the Viennese artist Gustav Klimt whose style is so distinctive. With so much fine art on display, there is a lot to take in as there are also lots of lovely illustrated books, posters and printing plates for visitors to enjoy.
Located in a spectacular neo-classical palace, the Albertina is certainly well worth a visit.
2. Naturhistorisches Museum
Opened in 1891, the museum houses an almost unfathomable thirty million objects, all to do with our life here on Earth. The Natural History Museum looks at the history of the planet and there are exhibitions on evolution, meteorites, animals and more.
It also has a great collection of dinosaur bones which is among the museum’s main attractions. A huge place, there is loads to see and many people enjoy heading to the planetarium which is a relaxing yet educational and entertaining part of the museum.
With so many wonders of the natural world on display, one could spend weeks exploring the collection and still not have seen everything. Make sure that you give yourself ample time so that you don’t end up rushing. Located on the Ringstrasse, the museum is situated directly in front of the Kunsthistorisches Museum which is identical in appearance.
1. Kunsthistorisches Museum
Located in an absolutely stunning building that is crowned by a lovely dome, the Museum of Art History as it is known in English is fantastic to visit and is not to be missed when in Vienna.
With one of the most important and indeed most expansive art collections in the world, it is a breathtaking place to explore in part due to the beautiful galleries and rooms in which the art is exhibited. The extensive Egyptian collection is great to peruse as are the Greek and Roman pieces on display.
On top of the countless artifacts and objects on show, the museum also has a huge collection of paintings and some of the fantastic work by Rembrandt, Raphael and Michelangelo are among the many highlights.
Commissioned by Emperor Franz Joseph I, the art on show used to be part of the Hapsburg’s private collection before it was opened up to the public. Now a popular place to visit among locals and tourists alike, the Kunsthistorisches Museum really is a magical place to explore.