The Albertina (Vienna)

The Albertina (Vienna)



Open: 10am- 6pm, Wed: 10am- 9pm

Restaurant: 9am- 12pm

Entrance Fee: 11.90 Euro, Seniors: 9.9 Euro, Free for people under 19 years old

Albertinaplatz 1
Tel. 01- 534 830
Subway: Karlsplatz, Stephansplatz
Open: 10am- 6pm daily (to 9pm Wed)


Description of Albertina

Albertina is a magnificent palace in Vienna not far from the Hofbug complex that holds and extensive art museum. Albertina museum complex gets its name after Duke Albert of Sachsen- Teschen, Maria Theresa's son-in-law, who started collection his art work. Over consequent decades and centuries museum grew in size and diversity. Today it holds one of the largest collections of printed paintings. It includes an art work with over 65,000 watercolors and drawings. Additionally Albertina houses a collection of over 70,000 photographs. There are also paintings that date back to late Medieval Age, Renaissance and Modern periods. Albertina houses works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Raphael, Peter Rubens, Albrech Durer, Rembrandt and many other artists.


Albertina is always running multiple exposures. Permanent exhibits include masterpieces by Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon and many other famous artists from all over Europe. Additionally it holds a large library, a reading room, restaurant and a gift shop. Albertina Museum offers audio guides (4 Euros) at the entrance, as well as group tours in several languages.


The museum
The museum is housed in the Archduke Albrecht Palace, a historic residence of the Habsburgs. The name Albertina refers to Albert Casimir Duke of Saxony-Teschen, son-in-law of Empress Maria Theresa, who founded the collection in Pressburg in 1776, where he resided as the representative of Maria Theresa for the Kingdom of Hungary. In 1792 he was able to bring a large part of the collection from the Austrian Netherlands, where he later served as representative of the Austrian monarch, to Vienna. The encyclopedic and universalist collection comprises around one million drawings and prints from the Renaissance to the present.

Since the museum was loaned to the Batliner private collection in 2007, part of the exhibition space has no longer been used for the presentation of the graphic collection, but for a permanent exhibition of classic modernism: “Monet to Picasso. The Batliner Collection ”. The Albertina's collections are kept in a fully automated high-bay warehouse.

The collection
The Herzog Alberts Collection is one of the most important art collections in the world. For more than 50 years, he used a Europe-wide network of dealers and auctions of extensive private collections to acquire 14,000 drawings and 200,000 prints. Many of the master drawings - from Michelangelo's male files to Dürer's "Brown Hare" to Rubens ’portraits of children - are among the most famous works in art history today.

Duke Albert received the most important impulses for the creation of the collection from his wife, Archduchess Maria Christine, who was interested in and interested in art. Her enormous wealth also gave him financial support. The ducal collection contains works by artists from the early 15th to the early 19th centuries. From the beginning, Duke Albert systematically structured his collection according to art historical criteria, schools and art landscapes. The Germans and Austrians take first place, followed by the works of Dutch, Italian and French artists.

In the last two decades of his life, Albert increasingly acquired works by contemporary artists ("Maîtres Moderne"). They make up around a third of his drawing collection. All drawings from Albert's possession are stamped by the duke himself: his monogram »AS« for Albert of Saxony. In addition to historical and genre depictions, Duke Albert's fondness was above all landscapes. The collector preferred carefully drawn works in color or elaborated with pictures: he was less interested in the drawing as a document of an artistic process, but rather as a work equivalent to the painting with its own aesthetic qualities, which are inherent only in the "light" drawing.

In 1816, Duke Albert designated his graphic collection as an indivisible and inalienable Fideikommiss, whereby it initially fell to his universal heir and adoptive son Archduke Karl in 1822, and was subsequently managed by Archduke Albrecht (statue in front of the Palais) and Friedrich, both like Karl generals of the monarchy. As the Habsburg Fideikommiss, the building and art collection fell under the Habsburg law after the end of the monarchy and therefore became Austrian state property in April 1919. The entire collection has been preserved to this day.

The 25,000-volume library and furniture, on the other hand, were most recently private property of Archduke Friedrich, were removed by him in 1919 and have since passed to various buyers. In recent years, however, the Albertina has bought some furnishings that were essential for the faithful furnishing of the Habsburg representative rooms in the palace.


History of the palace
Maria Theresa had the palace built in 1744 for her close friend and advisor Don Emanuel Teles da Silva Conde Tarouca. The architect was Mauro Ignazio Valmaggini. In 1792, due to war and revolution, Albert and Marie Christine had to flee from Laeken Castle in the Austrian Netherlands, where they served as governors. Back in Vienna, the couple needed appropriate accommodation, whereupon Emperor Franz II gave them the palace on the Augustinian Bastion - today's Albertina - in 1794.

Albert first had the building adapted for his graphic collection and the library and subsequently expanded with a representative wing (between 1802 and 1804). The 150-meter-long facade impressively demonstrated to the emperor residing next door in the Hofburg the duke's financial potency and self-esteem. The items of equipment taken from Laeken Castle, such as furniture, shutters and wall paneling, were integrated into the new state rooms. Silk coverings from Lyon, artistic inlaid floors and gilded crystal chandeliers complemented the magnificent appearance.

History of the collection
Vienna and the imperial court around 1780
The imperial court in Vienna presented itself during the reign of Maria Theresa in courtly splendor and late baroque splendor. She ruled the countries of the Habsburg monarchy and her husband Franz Stephan von Lorraine ruled as emperor in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation since 1745. The country mother ensured the survival of the dynasty with 16 children, and Franz I. Stephan, as a business magnate, generated a gigantic fortune that would finance his descendants as a family fund. The everyday life of the imperial family was strictly regulated, which is why child rearing was also subject to strict guidelines. Languages, history, religion, music and dance were taught from the age of four; Scientific and artistic interests were promoted early on. Archduchess Marie Christine was a talented draftswoman who copied throughout her life based on templates by Dutch and French masters. It matured into a proud, self-confident and cultivated "Grande Dame" by 1765, which, thanks to its education and representation, could meet the dynastic demands of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine.

Albert and Marie Christine
Maria Theresa saw her children as dynastic capital and did not choose the spouses of her children without political calculation. Prince Albert met 17-year-old Marie Christine in 1760 when he visited his aunt Maria Theresia in Vienna. It was only in the spring of 1764 that she returned his passionate feelings and the monarch granted her preferred daughter a love marriage to the jaunty Saxon. The wedding ceremony took place during the mourning period for the late Emperor Franz I. Stephan on April 2, 1766 in the Vienna Hofburg. The signing of the marriage contract on April 5, 1766, gave Prince Albert a woman with a fortune of 4 million guilders (about 63 million euros). While Marie Christine was allowed to maintain the title of archduchess for the rest of her life, her lower-ranking groom was awarded the coat of arms and title of the Duchy of Teschen and henceforth called herself Duke Albert of Saxony-Teschen. The wedding was celebrated on April 6, 1766 in a small, family setting and "incognito" in Hof Palace. The love marriage was followed by a happy marriage. »Mimi« and »Berti«, so the intimate nicknames, have always shared an intimate and passionate love. Maria Theresa made her son-in-law Reichsfeldmarschall and Locumtenens (governor) of Hungary; from April 1766 the couple resided in the royal castle of Bratislava.


Duke Albert of Saxony-Teschen and Archduchess Marie Christine were not ruling monarchs, but due to their high birth they belonged to the European elite. Offices and dignities of the couple - she represented the dynasty in Hungary and the Austrian Netherlands (where she was co-regent of her husband), he took over as Reich (general) field marshal, Locumtenens, Knights of the Order of the Golden Fleece and the Austrian-Imperial Leopold Order, in the Netherlands especially as Governor General, high military, political and social positions - were expressed in an elaborate lifestyle. Their feudal need for representation was reflected in an extensive court, illustrious festivals and exquisite hunting parties. The royal palaces in Bratislava and Brussels as well as the Vienna Palais housed unique furnishings; magnificent tapestries from the royal French court manufacturers, the most precious silverware, exquisite furniture and noble busts by Josiah Wedgwood. The 25,000-volume library, which was one of the most important on the continent, was particularly important. High education, excellent art understanding and exquisite taste identified Albert and Marie Christine as "Grand Homme" and "Grande Dame".

journey to Italy
The couple went on an educational trip to Italy from January to July 1776. The route included visits to the farms of Marie Christine's siblings in Parma, Florence, Naples and Modena, as well as a stay in Rome. In addition to ancient monuments and baroque religious buildings, they also visited the Vatican Museums with the Pio Clementino and the palaces of the Nobilità with their important private collections. Pope Pius VI granted the high couple an audience several times and presented him with valuable gifts. In Naples, Duke Albert became interested in natural phenomena and climbed Vesuvius with the British ambassador Sir William Hamilton. Marie Christine spent a lot of time with the court company and her favorite sister Queen Marie Caroline, who gave her several paintings by Jakob Philipp Hackert when she left. The couple stayed the longest at the Florentine court of Grand Duke Leopolds. The relationship with the brother was warm and the cultural and social life offered a lot of variety. Albert visited the magnificent collections in the Uffizi Gallery three times.

The foundation stone of the collection was laid in 1776
At the end of the Grand Tour, Albert and Marie Christine visited the Republic of Venice. On July 4, 1776, the Austrian ambassador Giacomo Conte Durazzo handed them over a thousand engravings in accordance with an order from 1774 to build up a graphic collection. The former director of the Vienna Court Theater was a close friend of the couple and also wrote the Discorso Preliminare for Duke Albert, the founding document of the Albertina, in which he laid down the principles and systematics of the collection. In line with D´Alembert's Discours préliminaire on the Encyclopédie published with Denis Diderot, the collection was not only intended to serve as a princely representation, but to contribute to the upbringing and well-being of mankind. On the same day, the founding fathers of the United States signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. It was the first constitution to be based on the principles of the Enlightenment. In the same year Maria Theresia abolished the "embarrassing questioning", Adam Weishaupt founded the Illuminati order in Ingolstadt, Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations and James Cook set off on his third and last circumnavigation.

The legacy
Archduchess Marie Christine died in Vienna in 1798. Albert commissioned Antonio Canova, the most famous sculptor of his time, to design an imposing grave monument. Canova designed a pyramid-shaped cenotaph, which was placed next to the Duke's Palace in the Augustinian Church - the first public grave monument for a woman in Vienna.

Duke Albert spent the last decades of his life, largely withdrawn from the public, in his palace and devoted himself primarily to expanding his collection. In 1816, Duke Albert designated the collection as an indivisible and inalienable Fideikommiss in his will. After Albert's death in 1822, the collection, like the palace, was taken over by his heir, Archduke Karl, and subsequently by Archduke Albrecht and finally Friedrich. During this time, the graphic collection was further expanded. At that time, like the palace, it was no longer privately owned by an archduke, but was part of the Habsburg family funds, which the Habsburg Act 1919 took over into the possession of the Republic of Austria without compensation.


The Albertina in the 1st Republic
With the end of the monarchy in 1918, the period of decline began for the representative building of the Albertina. Nothing should remind of the Habsburg roots of the collection. From now on, the history of the palace was systematically suppressed, the memory of its inhabitants and the splendid classical furnishings of the splendid rooms. In April 1919, the building and collection became the property of the Republic. In 1920 the collection was merged with the prints of the former imperial court library. In the same year, all state rooms were closed to the public and used as offices, a library or for storing the collection. The precious decorations were not handled with care, which gradually devastated the glamorous cultural heritage. An actual will to destroy can only be spoken after the Second World War. The building and collection have been officially named Albertina since 1921. As much as the building suffered, Duke Albert's continued expansion of the collection was continued from 1923 to 1934 by the then director of the Albertina, Alfred Stix. He managed to complete the holdings by acquiring French and German drawings from the 19th century, which had hardly been represented until now.

The Albertina in World War II and after
From 1934 until the end of the Second World War, Alfred Stix continued to focus on the expansion of Austrian and German graphics from the 19th and 20th centuries. On March 12, 1945, the Albertina was badly damaged in an American bombing raid. Instead of rebuilding the palace afterwards, the historical style started in 1919 was continued. The former Habsburg palace was in 1952 - when the "Albertina Graphic Arts Collection" reopened - an unadorned, architecturally uninteresting building and stripped of its historical identity. For decades, the Albertina was only open to the public a few hours a day (around 1936: 27 hours per week, 1959: 35 hours per week) and the number of visitors was low. The scientific directors placed much more value on their study character than on the impact of the collection on the general public. The fact that many graphics were rarely allowed to be exposed to light for conservation reasons contributed significantly to this attitude.

From 1962 to 1986, Walter Koschatzky acted as director. He organized over 200 exhibitions and published numerous art historical works on the graphic arts. In its era, the Albertina was again perceived more publicly.

Present day
The Albertina was opened to the public again in 2003 after more than a decade of closure, extensive expansion, modernization and careful restoration. The Albertina was scheduled to reopen in 2002 after the renovation work started in the early 1990s. The discovery of a Roman burial ground with over 130 graves delayed the conversion. In the course of the restoration, missing parts of the facades cut off in the 1950s were reconstructed and the Habsburg state rooms were restored. For the first time in 80 years, the classicist state rooms were renovated and large parts of the original furniture, which had been scattered all over the world after the First World War, were bought back by Duke Albert from 1780 to 1805 and Archduke Karl in 1822 from Josef Danhauser. After the state rooms had been used as offices and depots for 80 years, they were opened to the public for the first time in the history of the palace. The museum entrance was restored to the historically original level of the bastion. In order to make the comprehensive presentation of the collections possible, four exhibition halls were set up and the exhibition area was expanded from just 150 m² to 5,000 m². At the same time, an underground storage facility with 5,000 cubic meters was built.


Hans Hollein was commissioned to redesign the entree. Especially the so-called "Soravia Wing", a striking flying roof, was the focus of controversial and mostly critical media attention. The wing was intended to symbolically make the modernization of the museum's infrastructure clear to the outside world, which is why a projecting roof wing was chosen. The wing, over 60 meters long, the escalator penetrating the bastion at an angle and the panorama lift were intended to shorten the distance between the street level and the entrance to the bastion visually and technically.

Since his appointment as director of the Albertina in 1999, Klaus Albrecht Schröder has overseen the renovation and repositioning of the house, which has been defined as a scientific institution under public law since January 1, 2000. At the same time, the name of the museum was changed to "Albertina" in order to express the originally intended unity of the founder of the collection, palace and museum. In addition, the fact that the "Graphic Collection" in the museum's name ceased to exist took account of the fact that the Albertina now houses three large collections: in addition to the Graphic Collection, the architecture collection and the one in 2000 by merging the significant historical holdings of the Federal Graphic Teaching and Research Institute Photo collection founded by the Langewieschen Verlag photo archive (Blue Books). In the following years, Schröder increasingly did not content himself with presenting his own collections, but instead entered into cooperations with private partners and long-term lenders.

According to the number of visitors, the move away from the sole exhibition of the graphic collection proves to be a success: These increased enormously. The museum is now one of the most visited sights in Vienna and recorded over a million visits in 2018.

Klaus Albrecht Schröder introduced a new presentation doctrine at the Albertina, underlining the indivisibility of the artistic. The expansion of the Albertina into an art museum with the four different collections (graphic collection, photo collection, painting collection, architecture collection) as well as the historical place of remembrance of the state rooms is also reflected in the number of employees at the Albertina: after 60 employees in 1999, the Albertina now counts the 300 employees.

A new study hall was opened in 2008. As part of the underground, four-story research center, where u. a. The library, the restoration and the workshops of the Albertina are housed in the approximately 300 m² large hall, which is now accessible to the collection, which has over a million works.

During heavy rains in June 2009, water entered the underground storage system. The detectors had recognized the water ingress, but this robbed the robots. To avoid major damage, 950,000 collectibles had to be relocated.