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
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
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.
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
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).
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.