Gray Sundays in Vienna: Exploring the Essl Museum

The holidays have come and gone, and we’re all facing three or four months of cold, gray Sundays in Vienna. It’s a good opportunity to check out some of lesser-known attractions in and around town. We have a list on our refrigerator!

Essl's well-known flying rabbit sculpture, in the courtyard.

Essl’s well-known flying rabbit sculpture, in the courtyard.

Today, we visited the Essl Museum of of Contemporary Art in Klosterneuberg. This is about twenty minutes outside of town by car, or you can take a free shuttle bus Tuesday-Sunday departing from the Albertina Museum in the 1st District. For departure times, see this page.


One of the more representative pieces.


A giant wooden head.

The Essl Museum presents about ten different exhibitions per year in a large, boxy space. The focus of the collections is Austrian and European art after 1945. Because it is modern art, after all, some of it is just weird and ugly 🙂 But, we saw many pieces that were beautiful, clever or humorous as well.  On the whole, it was a very good exhibition.

I really liked this one.

I really liked this one.

Very Warhol.

Very Warhol.


“Needle and Haystack” by a Czech artist.

We also had lunch in the café, which offers several vegetarian dishes along with the usual schnitzel and wurstl. The Asian noodles and tofu curry we ordered were bland by American standards, but quite tasty, and included a lot of fresh vegetables. We followed them up with a yummy cherry torte and coffee.


For the young or the young at heart.

There is a nice bookshop: though most of the books are in German, there are a few English ones, and some great kids’ books in both languages, as well as posters, toys, and jewelry.

Speaking of kids, there appear to be a number of children’s activities at the museum. For more information, visit this page.

I would not personally bring a baby, toddler or very active preschooler to the Essl–there are just too many things that they can’t touch, and the large exhibition halls amplify noise (as one family with a baby discovered while we were visiting). But I saw older kids, say 5 and up, who seemed to be enjoying it quite a bit.


Modern landscapes at the Schömer-Haus.

A couple of blocks away, the museum also exhibits art in the local headquarters of Baumax (the Schömer-Haus). This collection is not as interesting as the art in the Essl itself, but it’s easy enough to stop by on the way back to Vienna and check it out.  On a Sunday, the building looked closed, but the guard let us in and turned on the lights for us.

So, if you need somewhere warm to go on a cold, gray Sunday, I recommend the Essl Museum!

An der Donau-Au 1
3400 Klosterneuburg

TUE-SUN: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
WED: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m

Reviewed by Kelly.



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