Albertina

Vienna, Austria

Background

In 1745, Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria, commissioned the court building surveyor, Emanuel Teles Graf Sylva-Tarouca, to transform a seventeenth-century administrative building into a palace. From the beginning of the nineteenth century to the fall of the Hapsburg monarchy in 1918, this complex served as a residence and home of the graphic arts collection established by Duke Albert and his heirs, the Archdukes Carl, Albrecht, and Friedrich. The long wing on the Burggarten front was built between 1801 and 1805 after plans by Belgian architect Louis de Montoyer. In early 1919 the building passed into the hands of the Austrian Republic and is known today as the Albertina and is renowned for its exhibitions. A portion of the building was heavily damaged by bombing in March 1945, but immediately after the war it was restored. In 1998, restoration and required modernization of the building were undertaken to create a state-of-the-art exhibition and study center.

How We Helped

In 2000, WMF, through the Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve Our Heritage, contributed to the complete conservation of the Hall of Muses, one of the more important rooms of the palace. The paneled interiors and statuary, dating from 1822, were restored. Some of the panels were damaged, and all had been repainted and required special treatment of the surfaces to bring them back to their original appearance. Floors were fixed, gilded surfaces were cleaned and repaired, and decorative stucco and stone elements were restored.

Why It Matters

The palace housing the Albertina Museum is located on one of the last surviving pieces of the Vienna’s fortifications built following the Turkish siege of 1529. The rooms of the Albertina were decorated after designs by the architect Joseph Kornausl and are considered among the best examples of neoclassical art in Austria. The Hall of Muses represents one of the most important features of the Albertina: a harmonious classical ensemble highlighted by the sculptural cycle of Joseph Klieber and magnificent bronze fire-gilded chandeliers.

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