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Leopold Museum

Leopold Museum (7)

This museum is one of the most unique in what is known as the Museumsquartier, or Museum District, and houses a huge collection of Austrian art, with special interest paid to Secessionism, Viennese Modernism and Austrian Expressionism.

Today, roughly five decades after the museum's founder, doctor Rudolf Leopold, began acquiring canvases of the modern Austrian school before these had any significant value either for specialists or for the international market, the museum's collection totals some 5000 pieces.

Professor Leopold began to exhibit a passion for art while studying medicine during the 1950s. At this time he began collecting paintings and other objects. Circumstances, combined with a critical eye that was ahead of its time, led the doctor to show a special interest in the work of Egon Schiele, who was unknown at the time.

During the 50s and 60s, and through a series of exhibitions in Eindhoven, Amsterdam and London, Leopold managed to catapult the name of Schiele to the top of the list of the most sought-after European artists. 

The climax came, however, in 1965, when he organized an exhibition at the Guggenheim in New York, who staged a joint exhibition of works by Schiele and Gustav Klimt. Today, the Leopold Museum boasts more works by Egon Schiele than any other museum in the world.

The frenetic exhibition activity set in motion by Professor Leopold, coupled with the importance of his collection, which boasts masterpieces by artists the likes of Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Richard Gerstl and Albin Egger-Lienz, led to the establishment, in 1994, and with the help of the Federal Government and the National Bank of Austria, of a foundation designed to facilitate public access to the collection.

As a result, the magnificent cubic building designed by the studio Ortner & Ortner opened to the public in 2001. The structure, covered in white limestone, stands as one of the most recognizable of the museums that constitute the Museumsquartier.

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