Vienna's museum quarter (MQ) has become a highlight of the city's cultural scene in the 10 years since its creation, recording 3.8 million visitors last year, its director said Wednesday.
"Originally, we expected one million people (per year), this is four times as many," Daniela Enzi rejoiced at a press conference ahead of the MQ's 10th anniversary on Friday.
Located in the former imperial stables, the Museumsquartier, as it is known locally, is a 90,000-square-metre (968,000-square-foot) oasis in the city centre with restaurants, shops and museums, geared mostly to modern art.
While culture may be one of the main motivations to visit the MQ, the museums - including major art collections at the Museum of Modern Art (MUMOK) or the Leopold Museum - only tallied about 1.5 million visitors in 2010, meaning that many come principally to enjoy the dining, the atmosphere or any of a variety of events organised in the large courtyard every year.
"The Museumsquartier offers something for everyone," said Enzi, likening the city oasis to a "large cultural living room".
Just a stone's throw away from the grander and more conservative Kunsthistorisches and Naturhistorisches Museum - the art history and natural history museums - the MQ has helped dust off Vienna's image, according to the city's cultural affairs representative, Andreas Mailath-Pokorny.
"It shows our foreign visitors that Vienna has more to offer than just classical music, opera and theatre," he said.
Foreign tourists make up about one fifth of visitors, while Viennese residents remain in the majority at 69 percent.
The Museumsquartier's directors, along with the City of Vienna and the Austrian state, which holds about 75 percent of the complex, now hope to extend further onto the square in front of the former stables to reinforce the presence of modern art in the city.
Until October, a host of events are being held at the MQ to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
Museumsquartier website: www.mqw.at