If you plan on visiting Vienna in 2018, you’re in for a treat. This year, the city will be celebrating the lives and artistic creations of Klimt, Schiele, Moser, and Wagner. These virtuosos, who coincidentally all died in 1918, together help make Wien a mecca for fine arts that continues to this day.
As a destination for art lovers, the Belvedere Museum & Palace (www.belvedere.at) is a banquet. Walking through its galleries, one gets the feeling the ghost of Gustav Klimt is present. The museum was built in the 18th century for Prince Eugene of Savoy as a summer residence; the prince, who was gay, had numerous palaces built during his reign. This one is sprawling and majestic, the very definition of palatial. It comprises two imposing white buildings overlooking extensive formal gardens, a large pond, and elaborate statuary and fountains.
Featured here is Klimt’s most famous “The Kiss” and many other of his works. Also on display are paintings by other artists, hanging in galleries on a background of dark red wallpaper under the sparkle of Vienna’s ubiquitous crystal chandeliers. Kokoschka, Klimt’s friend and a member of his inner circle, is represented here, as is the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, his contemporary. There is also a comprehensive collection of the statues of the contorted faces created by the 18th-century artist Franz Xaver Messerschmidt.
Literally, days can be spent exploring the works in the upper and lower buildings. It’s also one of the only museums to allow visitors to photograph its masterpieces.
Find more of Klimt at the newer Leopold Museum (www.leopoldmuseum.org), which offers the largest collection of modern Austrian art; the Secession Building (www.secession.at) that features Klimit’s notable “Beethoven Frieze”; and at the Kunsthistorisches Museum (www.khm.at/en) where his frescoes are displayed. There are also images of his works on watches, dishes, pads, and pens everywhere you look.