Every city has its boutique museums. In Wien, we have the Albertina Vienna, our little treasure chest of 19th and 20th century art, fine graphics, architectural sketches from Renaissance to Modernism, and Austrian vintage photography.
History And Collections
The Albertina’s name comes from Count Albert von Sachsen-Teschen, one of Empress Maria Theresa’s sons-in-law.
Different from most traditional museums modern confronts traditional at the Albertina’s exterior: a wing-shaped ‘trampolin’ by Austrian rebel architect Hans Hollein canopies part of the rococo palace’s terrace. Compared to the size of Belvedere Vienna and the Museum of Fine Art, the Albertina’s 12+ parlours feel almost ‘private’. Even so, they house top international and Austrian art.
1. Rococo Interiors
For the most part, the Albertina looks like any rococo palace: As you walk through the Rococo Room, the Spanish Apartment, the Reception Hall, and the Wedgwood Cabinet you can’t help remembering the Belvedere or some parts of Hofburg.
But then again, the Albertina palace feels homely, the fabrics are more vibrant, and the atmosphere is more private, despite the many visitors. Most explicitly, the graceful sculptures, carved wooden cabinets, frescoes and delicate vases are worth a visit per se.
2. 19th And 20th Century Art
The first thing art lovers associate with the Albertina are its 19th and 20th century artworks: From Claude Monet’s Lily Pond and Pablo Picasso’s Still Life With Guitar to Gerhard Richter’s Abstract Painting: The Albertina Vienna’s collection of paintings tracks 200 years of art history. This is a fantastic place to follow international art as it morphs from Impressionist blurry pastels to abstract art‘s fragmented objects and and dismembered individuals.
3. Graphics Heaven
As soon as Austrian children start to draw, they learn about the Albertina’s signature graphic: The Hare by Albrecht Duerer. Long before the Albertina exhibited it the hare had become so popular that it had been copied various times from the 17th century. Today, the hare features on popular drawing pads for children.
The Albertina’s vast Graphics Collection is world renown, and includes works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Peter Paul Rubens, Albrecht Duerer, Paul Cezanne, Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol.
4. Architectural Collection
A highlight often overlooked is the Albertina’s architectural collection: Specifically, use it to explore the Imperial Palace in cross section, Otto Wagner’s sketch of the Imperial Pavilion; sketches of Roman state buildings; wooden architectural models by Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Alvaro Aalto: The Albertina Vienna’s Architectural Collection is small and exquisite, as the palace itself.
5. Photographic Collection
How did Schonbrunn Palace‘s Gloriette look like in 1850? What were Derby horse races like in Vienna 1900? It’s exciting to see photographs from the Habsburg Empire because they connect you in a more direct way than paintings would. Beyond Impeial court photography you can see the demolition of the old Vienna city walls, photographs of the former Habsburg crownlands, and shots of the Austrian mountains, mountaineers and skiers.
Hardly anyone visits a museum to have gourmet food, but Albertina may be an exception. In an adjacent wing of the museum, Viennese gourmet king and Demel patisserie owner Attila Dogudan offers fine Viennese and international cuisine. In contrast to the rococo glitz, the restaurant interiors exude mid century modern chic. What a great way to digest rich art with delicately prepared cuisine.
Albertina Vienna: Practicalities
Location: Albertinaplatz 1; 1010 Vienna; between Vienna State Opera and Burggarten.
Opening Hours: daily 10.00 am to 6.00 pm; Wednesdays 10.00 am to 9.00 pm On public holidays opening hours apply as for the respective week day
Tickets: EUR 9,50 (adults); visitors under the age of 19 go free;
Public transportation: Underground U1, U2, U4 (Karlsplatz stop), U3 to Stephansplatz;Trams: 1, 2, D, 62, 65, City bus: 3A (Albertina station)
Other great Vienna museums: Vienna Museum, House of Music, Hapsburgs Museum of Furniture (Hofmobiliendepot); Winter Palace of Prince Eugene
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