The palace housing the Albertina 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 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. Reconstruction works were began in 1998 in order to restore and modernize the building and create a state-of-the-art exhibition and study center.

The new Albertina
The most extensive reconstruction and expansion works in the history of the Albertina started in spring 1999:

Between the Burggarten front of the palace and the Palm House, a new four-floor structure of a total cubage of 26,000 m3, housing high-security storage facilities, a study building and a hall for temporary exhibitions, is being erected after plans by the architects' duo Steinmayer & Mascher. The structure is being built into the old city bastion so that it won't interefere with the original townscape. The patio of the state-of-the-art study building will allow working in daylight on all four floors. The underground storage facilities will ensure safe storage of the holdings. A fully automatic elevated shelf structure, the most modern one of its kind in the world, will provide room for 10,000 boxes holding the works of the collection. A computer-controlled system will allow access to them within a period of 60 seconds.

In the context of the reconstruction works, a unique project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs was launched in February 1999, with all drawings and watercolors being recorded digitally within a data base. Work on the underground storage, study building, and exhibition hall will be completed by fall 2002. In the course of the rebuilding of the palace, the Albertina's original main entrance located on the front of the bastion towards the State Opera will be re-opened, thus offering new possibilities for the use of the bastion at this vital point in Vienna's city center. The palace itself is being reorganized according to a completely novel and more generous spatial concept. After the restoration is completed, the Albertina will dispose of far more space for exhibitions than ever, 650 m2 of which will be located in the historical palace. In addition, the new hall for temporary exhibitions, covering an area of 800 m2 , will be available for high capacities of visitors, leaving the building substance of the old palace completely untouched. The staterooms on the Burggarten front are going to be restored; they will be open to visitors and be the site of various events.

Together with the underground storage, the study building, the exhibition hall, and an entirely new exhibition concept, the Albertina will again hold an eminent place in the scenery of Austrian and international museums.


Collection of Grafic Art
The Albertina maintains one of the largest and most valuable collections of graphic art in the world. Currently the collection consists of approximately 65,000 drawings and nearly one million prints covering all of the major art-historical epochs from the late Gothic to the contemporary Modern.
The range of exemplary works stretches from Raffaelo Santi, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens and Claude Lorrain to Eugène Delacroix, Édouard Manet und Paul Cézanne. In the twentieth century, the Albertina boasts extensive inventories of works by Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka through Pablo Picasso up to Robert Rauschenberg and Anselm Kiefer.
Duke Albert of Saxon Teschen (1738-1822) - founder of the collection and the palace's eponym - established the basis of the Albertina's current holdings together with his wife Marie Christine, a daughter of Maria Theresa, in the course of fifty years of activity as a collector. The enlargement of the palace to its present dimensions was carried out by Archduke Carl, victor in the great battle against Napoleon at Aspern. Following Albert's death, the collection was expanded by his successors. With the collapse of the Hapsburg monarchy it passed into the possession of the newly established republic. In 1920 it was united with the print collection of the former Imperial Court Library, and since 1921 it has carried its current name: Albertina. The collection is continually growing through new acquisitions, whereby emphasis is put on the purchase of highlights of international contemporary art.


Photo Collection
Founded in 1999, the Albertina Photo Collection fills a major gap in Austria: For the first time ever there is now an institution devoted to the collection, research and exhibition of historical and contemporary photography. The foundation for the new photo collection was provided by the acquisition of the Vienna Training and Research Institute of Graphic Art collection, which exists thanks in great part to the work of the scientist Josef Maria Eder. In addition to studio photography, early color photography and pictorialist work, this collection contains primarily scientific photography (x-ray photography, microphotography and chronophotography). Another centerpiece is formed by the collection (on loan from the Austrian Ludwig Foundation, Vienna) of the publishing house Langewiesche, which was legendary for photo volumes like Die Blauen Bücher and Der Eiserne Hammer. The remaining inventory reaches from the medium's beginnings to the present, with the American photography of the sixties and seventies being one of the focal points. Special attention is also being given to the artistic legacies of Austrian photographers, whose work is put in an international context through the corresponding acquisitions.

With the Albertina's reopening in the autumn of 2002, 800 m2 of space will be made permanently available for the exhibition and presentation of the photography collection. Major international exhibitions as well as study exhibitions based on the results of current research will be shown in this facility. Furthermore, public access to the photographs will be provided in the study room and the library's resources will be significantly enlarged in the area of photography.


Architecture Collection
The Albertina owns ca. 25,000 architectural drawings by G. Romano, F Borromini, C. Rainaldi, J. B. Fischer von Erlach, P. Nobile, T. Hanson, A. Loos, L. Bauer, C. Holzmeister, L. Welzenbacher and others. Philipp Baron von Stosch (1691-1757) is considered to be the architectural collection's founder: Thanks to him the Albertina owns approximately 2,000 Italian architectural drawings from the 16th, 17th and early 18th centuries as well as the papers, plans and drawings left by Francesco Borromini, the great master architect of the Baroque, at his death.

Baron Stosch lived in Rome for almost ten years. During that time, several artists were commissioned to record the facades of all of Rome's well-known structures in frontal views at the order of King John V of Portugal. Stosch apparently had duplicates of them made and also commissioned illustrations of sculptures and decorative fragments, so as to be able to assemble a complete pictorial atlas.
In 1769, the entire Stosch collection landed on the auction block in Hamburg. From there, all 324 volumes of the atlas went to the Imperial Court Library in Vienna. In 1841, they were integrated into the Vue Collection of the Copperplate Engraving Cabinet. The collection was eventually divided in 1905 as a result of the creation of a geographical department. Following its transferal to the Albertina, the inventory was combined with works of other provenance, at which time it lost any remaining coherence as an autonomous collection.

Beyond the "Stosch Atlas", a second cornerstone of the collection is formed by an additional 4,000 drawings that were created in the draftsmen's bureau of the court (and later state) construction office. These plans were intended to provide a thorough documentation of Hapsburg building projects between 1700 and 1918. Before they were transferred to the Albertina in 1920, the plans were brought together in 1918 with the declared intention of creating a centralized museum dedicated to the preservation, study and presentation of the art of architectural drawing. In this collection were among others works by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach (1657-1723), his son Joseph Emanuel (1693-1742) and Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt (1668-1745).
In recent decades, this representative collection has been expanded through the inclusion of the bequests of important modern Austrian architects (Leopold Bauer, Josef Frank, Hubert Gessner, Clemens Holzmeister, Hans Kestranek, Heinrich Kulka, Adolf Loos, Helmut von Wagner-Freynsheim, Lois Welzenbacher) and individual acquisitions.

Last but not least, the Albertina's model collection provides a representative survey of world architecture in the classical Modern. It contains more than 100 models transferred from the Vienna Technical University, including works after O. Wagner, A. Loos, L. Welzenbacher, F. L. Wright, Le Corbusier, L. Mies van der Rohe, T. Van Doesburg, A. Aalto and C. Eames.