Vienna's Albertina  Reopens  March  2003

In the spring of 1999, the most extensive reconstruction in more than a century, and the most comprehensive expansion works in the long history of the Albertina, began.  

The main objective of the work was to create a museum for today: modern exhibition areas, storage facilities with the latest technologies for conservation and security, a study and research centre, work rooms, and the infrastructure needed to accommodate the museum's visitors.

The Collection

The Albertina is home to the famous graphic collection of Duke Albert von Sachsen-Teschen.   It includes  60,000 drawings and one million prints, - among them Dürer's "Hare" and his "Hands folded for prayer", - Rubens' children studies and master pieces by Schiele, Cezanne, Klimt, Kokoschka, Picasso and Rauschenberg. 

In addition, the Albertina houses an architectural and a newly founded photo collection (among others Helmut Newton and Lisette Model).


The relationship between the Albertina and the United States has always been a special one. The fact that the most important day in American history, 4th July 1776, Independence Day, also happens to be the date of birth of the latter-day Albertina, is of almost mythical significance. 

On this very day, Conte Durazzo, advisor and collector of art, on behalf of duke Albert of Saxony-Teschen, handed over the first selection of prints to the latter in Venice, thereby forming the basis for today’s famous collection. 

The palace housing the Albertina, rises on Augustinerbastei in the historical center of Vienna, on one of the last surviving remainders of the city's fortification built after the Turkish siege in 1529. 

In 1745, the court building surveyor Emanuel Teles Graf Sylva-Tarouca, was granted permission by Maria Theresa to turn his office building dating from the second half of the 17th century, into a palace. From the beginning of the 19th century, to the fall of the monarchy in 1918, it served as a residence and home of the graphic arts collection for Duke Albert, the founder of the collection, and his heirs, the Archdukes Carl, Albrecht, and Friedrich. 

The long-stretched-out wing on the Burggarten front was built between 1801 and 1805 after plans by the Belgian architect Louis de Montoyer. The rooms, decorated after designs by the architect Joseph Kornhäusl, rank among the most precious examples of neoclassicist art in Austria.

In early 1919, the building passed into the hands of the Austrian Republic and has since then been used by the Albertina for its administration and exhibitions. The part towards the State Opera was heavily damaged by bombs in March 1945, and remodeled in a simplified fashion afterwards. In the course of this remodeling, the former entrance situated on the bastion, was shifted to the rear side of the building. 

When the restored Albertina Palace is re-opened in March 2003, it will become a landmark in one of the most beautiful parts of Vienna, as befits one of the world's largest and most important museums.

Exhibitions in 2003 at the Albertina Edvard Munch. Theme and Variations

The Albertina is dedicating its opening exhibition to Edvard Munch, the creator of the world famous "The Scream”. More than 100 Paintings and 150 works on paper represent the basic experiences of love and jealousy in human life. The biggest show of the Norwegian expressionist Munch’s work ever mounted, exhibits 50 works on loan from all over the world, in the addition to works from the collection of the Albertina. The exhibition runs from March 14, to June 22, 2003

The Eye and the Camera. A History of Photography.

"What I cannot paint I photograph…”, Herman Ray said of his work. The Albertina’s newly created collections of photographs forms an exciting extension of the museum‘s collection. Works by photography’s pioneers, such as the earliest known shot of Vienna from 1840, will be shown as well as Rudolf Koppitz’ erotic compositions or the reportage-like works of Walker Evans or Stephen Shore. The exhibition runs from March 14 to June 8, 2003 

Masterpieces from the Albertina. From Raphael to Goya.

The Albertina, world famous for its exquisite and comprehensive collection of over a million works on paper, presents the most valuable drawings of the great masters, from Michelangelo’s nude studies, to Rubens’ touching child portraits.  The exhibition runs from July 4 to August 24, 2003

Albrecht Dürer

Albrecht Dürer set out on his second journey to Italy in 1505. Commissioned by the German community in Venice, he painted the Feast of the Rosary for the church of St.Bartolomeo. Dürer prepared this work with great care, adopting the habit of the Venetian painters, of making detail studies on blue Venetian paper. In these brush drawings with dark grey ink and white highlights, the artist achieved very sensitive pictorial values. The Head of an Angel, a detail study for the lute-playing angel in the Feast of the Rosary, is surely the most moving of the preliminary drawings for this painting. With his beautiful serene face gazing heavenward, the angel listens quietly and reflectively to the music.

The Albertina houses the most important Dürer collection in the world. Albrecht Dürer's drawing Hare, is one of the most popular works in the history of art. The original will be exhibited in this unique Dürer show, before it disappears once again into the safety of the Albertina’s vaults. Other works from London, Paris, Berlin, Munich, New York and Los Angeles will supplement the Albertina’s own collection to form the most comprehensive show ever of Albrecht Dürer’s work. 

The exhibition runs from September 5 to November 30, 2003

This article was made possible through the resources of The Albertina's press facilities.

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All photos © Albertina, 2000