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About Vienna | Destination Vienna | Vienna is Culture

Vienna: Muse, Kiss and Avant-garde

The world's largest Bruegel collection and the prettiest kiss immortalized by Jugendstil genius Gustav Klimt in his world famous painting can only be found in Vienna. The cultural capital is also a place where you can discover a rich diversity of styles and eras. Baroque opulence and cool avant-garde coexist in an exciting creative environment. Pieces by talented young designers now hang in the ornate staterooms and are just as impressive as the old masters found in Vienna’s modern museums.

The Albertina, a venerable palace, houses one of the most important art collections in the world. "Major" exhibitions take place here, and the museum's own collection is spectacular, with names such as Matisse, Renoir and Miro. The Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna on the Ringstrasse is devoted to Old Masters. Art treasures from all the key eras are on display here, in particular examples from the Renaissance and Baroque periods by Rubens, Titian, Rembrandt and Raphael. The museum also holds the world’s largest collection of works by Bruegel. Some visitors even return to Vienna just to relive the experience of being a guest at Bruegel's Peasant Wedding. The Kunstkammer is one of the most important in the world: More than 2,100 objects, collected over centuries by the Habsburgs, are on show.

The picturesque Belvedere Palace is home to the biggest collection of Klimts in the world, including The Kiss. The Secession Building, which was used as an exhibition space by Klimt's secessionist group of artists, awaits with its ornate gold leaf dome at Karlsplatz.

Renowned 20th century artists are represented at the MuseumsQuartier. Built by Baroque architect Fischer von Erlach, the former court stables now host a whole new district. The courtyard is once again brimming with life thanks to the Leopold Museum - the Schiele collection is world-renowned - the Museum Moderner Kunst (mumok), Kunsthalle Wien, Architekturzentrum, Designforum, and various shops, cafés and restaurants. The 21er Haus near the Upper Belvedere, built in 1958 for the World Expo, has been renovated and shows Austrian art of the 20th and 21st centuries. Numerous galleries, especially in the 1st and 4th districts, also offer contemporary art and impress with small, but mighty exhibitions on their premises. In the Baroque Augarten, Francesca Habsburg has created a space for current works of art with her TBA21. And a historic bread factory in the 10th district is now home to more than ten institutions of contemporary art, including Galerie OstLicht, which together with WestLicht has dedicated itself entirely to photography.

Photographic art can also be marveled at in the Kunst Haus Wien, which was designed by the Viennese artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser - together with the nearby Hundertwasserhaus - in his very own style.

Young artists also create a buzz about themselves every year in the autumn at the viennacontemporary art fair and in November at Vienna Art Week, and local creative types show their works during Vienna Design Week. Rising stars on the Austrian and international art scene can always be found at the mumok and the Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Arts, or MAK for short.

A rest in one of the city's traditional coffee houses is highly recommended following a visit to one of the museums. Take a seat - with any luck it will be a Thonet - and treat yourself. This too is very much a part of Viennese culture.

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