The Albertina – one of Vienna’s busiest and best-loved art museums – can be found right at the heart of the city in a historical Habsburg residence.
This building stands out from others in the city centre with its contrast between modern and traditional. You can marvel at the contemporary art juxtaposed with the incredible old imperial rooms it is showcased in. What a perfect setting!
That’s a tricky one... I guess you won’t be too impressed if you’re not all that into art?
Make sure you book your ticket online, as the Albertina is a busy attraction!
Last Modified: 15.11.2022 | Céline
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at a glance
EUR 18.90 for adults
EUR 14.90 for visitors under the age of 26
EUR 14.90 for seniors over 65 years of age
EUR 7 for people with disabilities
free for children under 19 years
Online ticket via Tiqets EUR 1 cheaper!
Combination ticket with Albertina Modern: EUR 24.90show less
Free admission to the Albertina
The Vienna Pass is available for 1, 2, 3 or 6 days.
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Reduced admission to the Albertina.
The Vienna City Card is available for 1, 2 or 3 days.
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WHAT IS THERE
We were seriously impressed by the Albertina. We hadn’t known what to expect before we visited and that made the surprise that much sweeter. How come?
Well, the museum is the perfect blend of history and art, old and new. The art was more modern than we were anticipating, with the impressive masterpieces being showcased in style. Here you can make your way up a grand staircase, meander through baroque chambers fit for royalty and leisurely linger over masterpieces by Klimt, Monet, Picasso, Lichtenstein and Richter on the next floor up. You couldn’t get that same experience anywhere else in the world, could you? And that’s what makes this museum so special!
The state rooms are part of the Archduke Albrecht Palace that was refurbished between 1742 and 1745 and now provides us with an insight into the style and splendour of the Habsburg archdukes. Grandeur and resplendent luxury abound with chandeliers and wall panels at every turn. The furniture can be dated back to the classicism era.
The setting may be stunning, but it doesn’t come close to overshadowing the art collection here. Our little name-dropping session above only covered a small sample of the artwork on display at the Albertina. Every step you take through the rooms with their modern grey decor is one step closer to the next masterpiece that’s bound to be just around the corner.
But that’s not all! The Albertina is also home to some important drawings and prints in its graphic art collection – one of the most significant in the world. Works by the likes of Dürer, Raphael and Rembrandt are just waiting to be discovered here even though they can’t be put on permanent display.
In 2003, the Albertina became a building of architectural interest thanks to its new entrance. The controversial Soravia Wing is a flyover roof designed by Hans Hollein and covering a length of 60 metres.
So what is the star of the impressionist paintings on display at the museum? That would have to be Monet’s ‘The Water Lily Pond’ from 1917, which is part of the collection amassed by Herbert Batliner. A big name in the art world at the time, the collector gifted his huge collection of works by Monet, Picasso and many more to the Albertina in 2007 and sadly passed away in 2019. And now that very collection is the beating heart of the museum.
That iconic painting by Monet (1840–1926) was brought to life alongside the gigantic water lily murals now on display at the Musée de l’Orangerie. It may not be quite on the same scale but the signature steady hand and colour scheme are common threads.
All of the masterpieces were inspired by the artist’s water lily pond at his property in Giverny. Monet spent the last 30 years of his life hard at work in the garden there, so it comes as no surprise that the setting pops up so often in his art. He wanted to capture the light, shade and colours of his beloved water lily pond to express his deep feelings for it.
And yet Vienna is really all about Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. You may have already noticed that here at Museos / Vienna… If not, check out the pages on the Leopold Museum, the KHM and Belvedere Palace. It should come as no surprise that there’s no escaping Gustav Klimt (1862–1918) here either!
You won’t want to miss ‘Water Nymphs (Silverfish)’. Let’s start by just taking a moment to appreciate that title! And then take a look at the painting and you’ll see what looks like two women’s heads popping out of fur coats. But look again from any angle… Your perception will shift and those fur coats will suddenly appear to be the bodies of silverfish.
Have you seen anything like that before?!
Plenty of German artists are represented at the Albertina too. The most predominant of those is Ernst Ludwig Kirchner…
Kirchner (1880–1938) has close ties to ‘The Bridge’ (Die Brücke in German), which he co-founded with a group of like-minded artists in 1905. He laid down the foundations with his fellow founding members Heckel, Bleyl and Schmidt-Rottluff, with more artists like Nolde joining in later down the line.
That was a pivotal moment in Kirchner’s career, as it was in that group that he made the move to expressionism, with bright, contrasting colours, distortion, lack of detail, broad brush strokes and exaggerated angles as its main characteristics. All of that comes across nicely in the 1914 painting called ‘Two Nudes in a Room’ starring Erna and Gerda Schilling as models. Erna at the front went on to officially become Kirchner’s partner.
A BIT OF HISTORY
The Albertina was opened up in the Archduke Albrecht Palace and yet it was Archduke Albert who laid the foundations for the museum with his collection and ended up having the place named after him. And it was him who took on the old residence at Palais Taroucca in 1795 and had extension work performed between 1801 and 1805.
After his death, a long line of archdukes went on to live in the palace, often renovating and expanding it along the way. During this time, the palace and the graphic art collection at the Albertina (amassed by Archduke Albert) were not actually owned by named individuals and instead belonged to the imperial family’s entailed estate (inheritance and estate law). It wasn’t until 1919 that the empire fell and the first Austrian Republic was created, meaning that everything was then passed onto the state. Archduke Friedrich, who was living there at the time, was evicted and told he could only take a few personal effects with him.
The name ‘Albertina’ was introduced for the collection and the palace in 1921.
In 1945, the Albertina was badly damaged by bombing, with only the main parts being repaired and refurbished afterwards. By the end of the major renovations between 1998 and 2003, we were given the gift of the Albertina as we know and love it to this day. New and old are intertwined, with Hollein’s controversial flyover roof as the star of the show.
The collection amassed by Archduke Albert was one of the most significant graphic art collections in the world on its own. The collector had used his position for 50 years to gain entry to auctions all around the world and ultimately procure around 14,000 drawings and 200,000 prints, including masterpieces by Michelangelo, Dürer and Rubens. Towards the end of his life, he also started to buy contemporary art. And this spirit still lives on to this day!
Albert even commissioned Antonio Canova to design and build a funerary monument for his dead wife. If you’re interested, you can see this for yourself at the Augustinian Church in Vienna.
The birth of the Austrian Republic may not have stopped the collection of graphic art growing, but it was bad news for the state rooms, which were used as office and storage space that was often neglected. Things didn’t get any better during the Second World War either.
When the renovation work was ongoing, the rooms destroyed during the war were restored and the sad-looking state rooms were finally renovated.
It wasn’t until 2007 that the Batliner collection was passed over to the Albertina and the main graphic art collection was diversified to create a broader art museum.
On 27 May 2020, the museum officially opened up the Albertina Modern on Karlsplatz. Showcasing art created after 1945, this second site is well worth a visit too.
Official website of the Albertina (DE): www.albertina.at
Text and image rights: © Céline Mülich, 2020 – 2022
With the permission of the Albertina Museums