A high-quality precision-controlled turntable apparatus was fabricated to probe the dynamic behavior of a viscous fluid contained in a cylindrical container. Vortex breakdown(s) produced by a rotating endwall disk was visualized by using a fluorescent dye injection technique, and its flow field was measured by using a particle image velocimetry. This flow is characterized by two non-dimensional parameters, i.e., the height-to-radius ratio H/R and the rotating Reynolds number Re = Ω2/v. Limiting boundaries for single, double and triple vortex breakdowns in steady flow were re-plotted to compare with the previous visualization studies of Escudier. The locations of stagnation points of the vortex breakdown bubble(s) in steady flow were measured quantitatively. The overall experimental results in the steady flow were in excellent agreement with Escudier’s data. In unsteady flow, the amplitude and time period of periodic axial oscillation, and the polar angle and time period of precession, were measured. The domains for periodic axial oscillation and for precession in unsteady flow were delineated.