The ALBERTINA museum numbers among Austria’s leading art museums and is open to the public 365 days a year. It is our desire and aim to be current, relevant, and attractive to the public in all of our endeavors. Our work is oriented toward our visitors’ needs and expectations, their previous personal experiences, and their sensory and intellectual experience of art.
Positioning of the ALBERTINA as a Palace and a Museum
The year 1776 saw Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen begin assembling a graphic arts collection that, in 1919, would be taken over by the Austrian state together with the palace that housed it as a museum for art ranging from Renaissance masterpieces to contemporary works.
Today’s ALBERTINA museum is deliberately positioned as something of a Janus-faced institution: the renovated and authentically re-furnished staterooms stand for the princely lifestyle once maintained at this former Habsburg residence, while the ALBERTINA museums large-scale temporary exhibitions plus its permanent presentation of modernist and contemporary paintings attest to its character as a thoroughly modern museum.
It is our exhibitions, above all, that define the ALBERTINA museums identity. Their special nature lies in the fact that the lion’s share of our holdings are sensitive to light and can therefore be shown only occasionally and for short periods of time. It is hence all the more important to us that our temporary exhibitions reach the largest possible audience and are accompanied by multilingual outreach work geared to people of all educational backgrounds and ages. At the same time, we strive to break new scholarly ground with the accompanying research that we do.
With its Graphic Arts Collection—which, at one million works spanning the period between the Renaissance and the present, is one of the world’s largest and most important—the ALBERTINA museum is the world’s leading museum for the art of drawing and printing. The museum’s exhibition programming, which draws heavily on this core collection, underlines the ALBERTINA museums outstanding rank in the field of graphic arts.
The exhibition programme centers on the great masters of art history and the most important artists of our times. Retrospective presentations are complemented by themed exhibitions on major artistic movements.
The ALBERTINA museum also cooperates regularly with leading international museums.
The Indivisibility of Art and the ALBERTINA museums New Presentation Doctrine
In recognition of the arts’ indivisibility, it has been our declared goal since 2000 to refrain from isolating the art of drawing from other artistic media and techniques employed by the central masters represented in our collections.
In an art-historical context, the isolated presentation of drawings and printed graphics has become obsolete—for which reason our art-historical research makes every effort to examine drawings in combination with the artworks with which they are directly related.
The division of the arts by medium and genre that first crystalized during the 18th century has long since become an anachronism, with the advent of a broader definition of art during the 1960s having rendered traditional genre- and medium-specific categorizations according to formal or material characteristics irrelevant.
For this reason, the ALBERTINA museums character as a specialized collection that isolated drawing and printed graphics from other art forms eventually became the museum’s Achilles heel, with public interest in the ALBERTINA museum exhibitions plunging dramatically in the wake of the crisis that engulfed graphic arts during the 1970s and ’80s.
With the museum’s assumption of the Batliner Collection, 2007 saw the ALBERTINA museum put works on permanent exhibit for the first time in its history. These holdings offer visitors an instructive tour through the world of modern painting, from French impressionism to Picasso, that is unique in Austria. With its contemporary works, the Batliner Collection complements the large contemporary art section of the ALBERTINA museums Graphic Arts Collection, which is comprised of 26,000 drawings and prints.
The ALBERTINA museums Photographic Collection
With the Photographic Collection’s 100,000 vintage prints, the ALBERTINA museums temporary photo exhibitions cover all of photography’s myriad facets and genres from its beginnings to the present day.
Art education and outreach play a prominent role at the ALBERTINA museum. Our efforts here ease access to art for individuals from all segments of society, including school children and visitors with special needs. The museum’s Art Education Department offers guided tours, workshops, numerous family programmes, artist talks, lectures, and panel discussions. As a lively and modern museum, we thus work to promote access to art, cultural education, and interpersonal encounters. All this is lent additional support by the numerous special events that take place outside of regular opening hours, along with the museum shop and the restaurant.
The Collections’ Conservation and Documentation
With regard to conservation, the ALBERTINA orients itself on the guidelines established by ICOM as minimum standards for its work. The comprehensive documentation of all collections numbers among our core missions, and the database Albertina Collections Online adheres to our precept of enabling the largest possible audience to access the masterpieces at the ALBERTINA museum in virtual form, as well.