Leopold Museum

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Leopold Museum
Leopold Museum - night shot with projection

The Leopold Museum is an art museum in Vienna that opened in 2001 and is known for its extraordinary Schiele and Klimt collection .

The holdings of the Leopold Museum were collected by the art collector Rudolf Leopold and his wife Elisabeth Leopold and have been the property of the Leopold Museum Private Foundation since 1994. The museum is one of the most important sights of the MuseumsQuartier (MQ), also opened in 2001, in the 7th  district , Neubau (address: Museumsplatz 1), and records around 350,000 visits annually. This makes it the best-visited house in the MuseumsQuartier.

The building

The museum dominates as an inclined white cuboid together with the black cuboid of the MUMOK (the Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation) the main courtyard of the MQ, the construction of which was financed 75% by the federal government and 25% by the city of Vienna. The two new buildings form a contrast to the historical buildings of the former Imperial and Royal stables that border the courtyard. The rectangular building of the Leopold Museum designed by the architects Ortner & Ortner (Laurids and Manfred Ortner) measures 40 × 46 m in plan and is 24 m high. The outside is clad with white shell limestone . The entrance is reached via a ten meter wide flight of stairs (there is also barrier-free access). The floors of the exhibition halls are covered with oak parquet; patinated brass was used for all visible metal parts . From the top floor of the museum one has a view of the Ringstrasse buildings and the old town of Vienna through a panorama window.

MQ dragonfly

See main article: MQ dragonfly

The MQ Libelle on the roof of the Leopold Museum in the MuseumsQuartier Wien is a work of art by the architects Laurids Ortner and Manfred Ortner ( O&O Baukunst ), completed in 2020, with permanent artistic interventions by Brigitte Kowanz and Eva Schlegel . It can be reached via two lifts on the outside of the Leopold Museum and is free for visitors. There is a gastro kiosk with a garden on the terrace. The MuseumsQuartier, which opened in 2011, is being expanded for the first time with the MQ Libelle. The MQ Libelle is a cultural area, viewing platform, resting place for visitors to the MuseumsQuartier Wien and an event location.

The collection

Egon Schiele: Self-portrait with lantern fruits

Rudolf Leopold, an ophthalmologist by profession, began collecting art in the 1950s. He was interested in works by artists who only appeared important to a few at the time, but which today achieve top prices on the art market. When making his purchases, he demonstrated an unerring instinct for quality and resourcefulness in the search for the pictures he wanted.

The Leopold Museum houses the world's largest collection of Egon Schiele's works and thus offers a unique overview of the work of this important draftsman and painter of Austrian Expressionism.

Works by Gustav Klimt , one of the most outstanding artistic personalities of the Vienna Secession , present another pioneer of modern painting in Austria. Other important artists represented in the collection are: Oskar Kokoschka , Richard Gerstl , Alfred Kubin , Koloman Moser , Albin Egger-Lienz , Carl Moll , Herbert Boeckl , Anton Faistauer , Anton Kolig , Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller , Anton Romako , Josef Hoffmann , and Albert Paris Gütersloh .

Paintings, graphics and objects by other artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, including valuable handicrafts and original furniture from Art Nouveau and the Wiener Werkstätte , complete the museum's collection.

The Foundation

Gustav Klimt: Death and Life

In the early 1990s, Leopold negotiated the future of his collection with the Ministry of Education responsible for art . It was of public interest, as the state itself, as was recorded in 2010, had to compensate for the “failure of cultural policy and art historians” or their “ignorance of the recent past”. In 1994 it was agreed that Leopold would receive 2.2 billion schillings (160 million euros) if he donated his art collection to a foundation that he would set up together with the state. Furthermore, Rudolf Leopold was appointed for life as the artistic director of the collection or of the museum to be built at state expense and received four representatives on the foundation's board, like the state. The foundation that was established in 1994 was supported by the Austrian National Bank . Leopold brought 5,266 inventoried works of art, estimated at a total value of 7.9 billion Schillings, to the foundation (and continued to collect art as a private individual with the amount received from the state).

The foundation exclusively and directly pursues charitable purposes within the meaning of the Federal Tax Code, there is no intention to make a profit. Purpose of the foundation is according to § 2 of the foundation deed:

The purpose of the foundation is to preserve the collection established by the founder over the long term, to make it accessible to the public through the operation of a museum, to document it and to process it scientifically. In this way, the importance of “modernism” that emerged in Vienna at the beginning of the 20th century for the cultural development of Austria should be presented.

Rudolf Leopold died on June 29, 2010. Since then, the Foundation Board has been made up of four independent representatives appointed by the Republic of Austria (two each from the Ministry of Education and Finance) and three representatives from the Leopold family, including his widow Elisabeth Leopold and his son Diethard Leopold .

The successor to Leopold as museological director was the art historian Tobias G. Natter , who stepped down in 2013. The commercial management continued to be headed by the cultural manager Peter Weinhäupl , who has been active in the foundation since 2000 , and who later became involved in the Klimt Foundation , which Ursula Ucicky (Gustav Klimt's daughter-in-law) helped set up .

On October 28, 2013, Natter announced his resignation at the OscART award ceremony . He was followed by the art historian and Leopold Museum collection curator Franz Smola as interim museological director. In June 2015, Hans-Peter Wipplinger was appointed museological director and became the new commercial director, as Peter Weinhäupl announced his voluntary resignation after 15 years in a managerial position, Gabriele Langer.

Restitution issues

The Leopold Museum is not a federal museum of the Republic of Austria, as it is based on a private foundation. The 1998 Art Restitution Act is therefore not applicable to this museum. (The law authorizes ministers of the Republic of Austria to return objects that have come into the possession of federal museums through an emergency sale, robbery, confiscation by Nazi agencies or other unfair transactions).

In 1998, the Foundation was after an exhibition Museum of Modern Art in New York, Portrait of Wally Neuzil of Egon Schiele as an alleged "stolen goods" confiscated. In July 2010, the Leopold Museum reached an agreement with the heirs to Lea Bondi-Jaray and the US government that the ownership of this picture should be given to the Leopold Museum in return for a payment of $ 19 million (€ 14.8 million). Museum passes. The picture was handed over to representatives of the private foundation on July 27, 2010 in New York. The painting can now be seen again in the Leopold Museum. The Leopold Museum Private Foundation had the painting Houses with Colorful Linen (Vorstadt II) auctioned at Sotheby’s London on June 22, 2011 in order to settle the loan taken out for the settlement in the so-called Causa Wally (legal dispute over Egon Schiele's portrait of Wally Neuzil ) to be able to. The work fetched a record £ 22 million for Schiele.

After a long hesitation, the foundation's board of directors has agreed to an independent provenance research to research other controversial purchases from the time of Leopold's private collecting activities . The reluctance of the Foundation, for which Leopold was responsible, to voluntarily devote itself to coming to terms with these incidents, was massively criticized in 2008 by the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde . On the other hand, the Leopold Museum Private Foundation determined that, together with the Republic of Austria, it was sticking to the path of additional, independent provenance research. The report of the appointed provenance researchers was sent in four deliveries at the same time to Minister of Education Claudia Schmied and the board of directors of the Leopold Museum Private Foundation. By December 2011 45 dossiers had been submitted. The commission set up by Minister Schmied, chaired by Nikolaus Michalek, does not make direct recommendations for action to the foundation, but rather assesses whether the Art Restitution Act would be an offense if the Leopold Museum were a federal museum.

On April 7, 2016, it became known that the Leopold Museum had reached an agreement with the 95-year-old heiress to Karl Mayländer, who lives in the United States: of five Schiele drawings that Mayländer owned, the museum states two chosen by the heiress this one back, the other three may keep it. The Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien had previously supported the heiress with an intensive media campaign. Josef Ostermayer , Minister of Culture in the Federal Chancellery, was closely involved in the discreet negotiations .

Individual evidence

  1. Matthias Dusini: He came, saw and bought. In: Falter weekly newspaper , Vienna, No. 27, July 7, 2010, p. 29.
  2. Matthias Dusini: He came, saw and bought. 2010.
  3. Tobias Natter has "arrived". Leopold Museum presents new head.
  4. Kaufmaennischer -director-Weinhaeupl-extended.
  5. diepresse.com from October 28, 2013 Art: Leopold Museum: Director Natter resigns (st) , accessed on October 29, 2013
  6. ^ Message on the ORF website from February 10, 2015
  7. ^ Orf.at - Leopold Museum: Wipplingen new director . Article dated June 3, 2015, accessed June 4, 2015.
  8. The deal with Schiele's Wally . ORF website, July 21, 2010
  9. ^ Tatort Leopold Museum: Israelitische Kultusgemeinde draws attention to the Austrian looted art dilemma on the 70th anniversary of the Reichspogromnacht APA press release of November 9, 2008
    Thomas Trenkler: "Incredible wickedness". Nazi-looted art: Rudolf Leopold speaks out with strange announcements. In: The Standard . Vienna, February 3, 2009, p. 25.
  10. ^ Press release Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung from November 26, 2008.
  11. ^ Leopold Museum - Research - Dossiers.
  12. ^ Report on the website of the Vienna daily newspaper Die Presse , April 7, 2016
  13. ^ Announcement on the ORF website, April 7, 2016
  14. Commentary by Olga Kronsteiner and Stefan Weiss in the Vienna daily Der Standard , April 7, 2016


  • Leopold Museum Privatstiftung (ed.): 5 years of the Leopold Museum. 12 years of the Leopold Museum Private Foundation. A time sketch . Edition Jesina & raum.kunst.wien, Vienna 2006, ISBN 3-902216-29-8 .

Web links

Commons : Leopold Museum  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 48 ° 12 '8 "  N , 16 ° 21' 33"  E