15 years “Friends of the Leopold Museum” — Leopold Museum Director Hans-Peter Wipplinger pays tribute to the association

Wipplinger: “Association of Friends an important factor in the Leopold Museum’s success radiating far beyond the borders of the city”

The year 2016 marks not only the 15th anniversary of the Leopold Museum, which opened in 2001, but also of the museum’s Association of Friends. Celebrating this milestone, the “Friends of the Leopold Museum” invited fellow members and guests to an anniversary event held on 6th October in the museum’s lower atrium.

Hans Raumauf, the president of the Association of Friends of the Leopold Museum, delivered the first of several celebratory speeches, reminiscing about a special year which he remembered not only because of the opening of the Leopold Museum but also because of the foundation of the museum’s friends society. He also mentioned the 25 members of the Association of Friends who maintain the museum’s information desk free of charge, amounting to 2,500 hours of voluntary work a year.

The president further spoke about the association’s manifold activities: “The association currently numbers more than 650 members. Over the years, we have organized 70 trips and excursions to see art treasures and special exhibitions in cultural hubs in Austria and many other European cities, as well as 270 guided tours and previews of special exhibitions at the Leopold Museum and other Vienna museums. 65 lectures, seminars, readings and visits to artists’ studios, including those of Arik Brauer, Hermann Nitsch, Anton Lehmden, Franz Xaver Ölzant and Robert Hammerstiel, complete this impressive record of past activities”.

To date, the “Friends of the Leopold Museum” have supported the museum’s projects with more than 200,000 Euros. The association is currently financing the restoration of a 1921 table lamp by the artist and Wiener Werkstätte member Dagobert Peche (1887—1923).

As a highlight of the evening’s festivities, the association’s president Hans Raumauf presented the Leopold Museum’s Artistic Director Hans-Peter Wipplinger with a rare 1914 etching by Egon Schiele (1890—1914) depicting the art collector Franz Hauer from a portfolio entitled “The Graphic Work of Egon Schiele”.

In his celebratory speech, the Leopold Museum’s Director Hans-Peter Wipplinger called the museum “one of Vienna’s cultural beacons whose light radiates far beyond the borders of the city owing to its relevance and the esteem in which it is held”.
Wipplinger emphasized the museum’s central role as an “identity-defining and vibrant art institution” whose history is inextricably linked with the great collector and museum founder Prof. Rudolf Leopold and his wife Elisabeth Leopold.

According to Hans-Peter Wipplinger, Rudolf and Elisabeth Leopold are “not only founders but instigators in the most positive sense of the word – instigating a commitment among the public to art with all its spiritual and cultural added value which opens up new horizons and offers new perspectives”.

Hans-Peter Wipplinger expressed his gratitude to the Association of Friends of the Leopold Museum whose support of 15 years is a testament to the trust the association places in the museum. Wipplinger’s message to the “Friends of the Leopold Museum”: “I want to thank you for your enthusiasm and your personal commitment to the idea of continuing to provide this outstanding museum with the support it needs to guarantee its future growth and vibrancy”.

Elisabeth Leopold, a founding member of the Association of Friends of the Leopold Museum, reminisced about the milestones in her life, mentioning her birth in 1926, her first encounter with her future husband Rudolf Leopold in 1946, as well as the 1956 exhibition of Austrian art initiated by Willem Sandberg held at, among other venues, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, where Egon Schiele’s art was given a forum for the first time in Europe after the War. Rudolf Leopold had been invited to select the Schiele works for the exhibition, choosing from his already eminent Schiele collection which included numerous chief works such as “The Hermits” and “Blind Mother”.
Continuing her trip down memory lane, Elisabeth Leopold mentioned the year 1965, when Rudolf Leopold substantially supported the first Schiele and Klimt exhibition held in the US at the New York Guggenheim Museum. In 1972 Rudolf Leopold published his ground-breaking catalogue raisonné of Schiele’s paintings. In 1984 important works from the collection were presented at the exhibition compiled by the then director of the Belvedere Gerbert Frodl and Rudolf Leopold entitled “Le arti a Vienna”, showcasing Viennese art from 1900 to 1918, from Secessionism to Expressionism, while he also supported the epochal 1985 presentation “Dream and Reality” with his expertise and loans from his collection. 1994 saw the foundation of the Leopold Private Foundation, before the Leopold Museum, which has proven so essential for the success of the MuseumsQuartier, was built and opened in 2001.

Rudolf Leopold, the cellist and son of the museum’s founder, provided the music for the evening together with the Polish pianist Maria Kasznia, performing, among other works, a movement from the cello sonata of her fellow countryman Frédéric Chopin.

The chairman of the “Friends of the Leopold Museum” Leopold Birstinger highlighted a positive trend within the association: “The anniversary is accompanied by a considerable increase in membership. Last year alone, we recorded 13 % more new registrations, and this tendency continues“. Generally, he noted that not only was the number of museums on the rise but also that of memberships in societies supporting these museums. “The association of friends offers interested members of the public not only unlimited access to the museum but also a wide range of additional services, such as special guided tours, lectures, seminars, concerts, art fairs, art excursions and art brunches as well as reductions at the Leopold Museum’s shop” according to Birstinger.

The chairman of the Leopold Museum’s Association of Friends Werner Sauer is especially keen to cater to the association’s young members: “On the occasion of our anniversary we have created a special art subscription for anyone under 28 years of age, called Leopold Live, which is available for only 36 Euros”.
Hundreds of members and guests turned out to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the association, first and foremost the president of the Association of Friends of the Leopold Museum Hans Raumauf and the vice-presidents Leopold Birstinger and attorney Thomas Mondl. They were joined by Volker Anlauf (treasurer), the association’s board members Prof. Alfons Huber, Univ.-Prof. Fritz Koreny, Marguerite Machek-Vos, Werner Sauer, general manager Gabriele Röder, Felizitas Schreier, Helmut Moser, chairman of the board of directors of the Leopold Museum Private Foundation and board member Elisabeth Leopold, the Directors of the Leopold Museum Hans-Peter Wipplinger and Gabriele Langer, as well as Claus Raidl, president of the Austrian National Bank and former president of the Association of Friends of the Leopold Museum, the president of the Austrian Shareholder Association IVA Wilhelm Rasinger, the artists Gerda Leopold and Robert Hammerstiel, theater doyen Michael Schottenberg, the gallery owner Manfred Kopriva, the attorney Martin Schuppich and many others.

For more information on the “Friends of the Leopold Museum”, on membership options, exclusive guided tours and special offers, please visit

For information on the museum’s current exhibitions, please visit


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