Describing the Albertina is hard.
Is it an art museum inside a palace? Or a palace inside an art museum?
And the wonderful answer to those questions is…it’s both.
- One of the great art museums, with a huge collection of works
- Permanent exhibition full of renowned names from French impressionism and later (e.g. Monet, Picasso, Chagall…)
- The palace staterooms are worth a visit in their own right
- Buy advance tickets* to save any queuing (or use the Vienna Pass for one-time free entry)
- Selected temporary exhibitions:
- See also: Museums in Vienna | The Albertina Modern
Inside the Albertina
One part of the museum is a tour of the Albertina staterooms, the other a set of modern galleries displaying permanent and temporary art exhibitions that draw strongly on the Albertina’s own collection.
Actually, collection is perhaps too small a word.
The museum has stewardship over more than 1,000,000 items. These cover everything from Dürer to Degas, Raphael to Renoir, Michelangelo to Magritte, and (much) more. A treasure trove of delights from the graphic arts, photography and architecture.
All of which would take a lot of string and nails to put up, not to mention space.
Which is why most of the Albertina collection is inevitably and unfortunately not on show. Besides, many of the older, precious items are too fragile for permanent display.
Dürer’s famous hare, for example, last popped out of its carefully-regulated storage in 2019 for the Dürer exhibition that ran until January 6th, 2020. We probably won’t see it again for a year or three.
What you do get to see depends on when you go:
- A permanent exhibition features, for example, works from the Batliner collection of art (“from Monet to Picasso”)
- Other items from the Albertina’s collections (and loan items) then appear in concurrent temporary exhibitions. When I last went, for example, these included:
- An exhibition of renaissance etchings featuring works by Dürer and colleagues
- A retrospective of Wilhelm Leibl’s work
- Photographs by Michael Horowitz
- Paintings from the Hahnloser collection featuring such giants as Van Gogh, Matisse, Cézanne, and similar
(After several visits, I’ve come to appreciate the mix of exhibitions put on by the Albertina. So you have what you might call exhibitions featuring the stars of global art, those featuring artists that have some international reach, and introductions to lesser-known or local names that deserve wider recognition. Not to mention themed exhibitions like the one on renaissance etchings.)
- The Albertina Modern: a second site that opened in May 2020 on Karlsplatz square. The location features its own temporary exhibitions that focus on more recent art
The good news is that the permanent exhibition at the main site alone is an absolute treat, as are the staterooms. So the temporary exhibitions form the delicious icing on a particularly tasteful cake.
Ticket and visitor tips
- Before you go in, walk along the raised front for a perfect view of the State Opera House and a nice view across the Burggarten to the Neue Burg palace wing
- There’s a cloakroom at the entrance. If you go further in and down some stairs, you’ll also find free lockers (which need a €1 or €2 coin to operate)
- The Albertina shop is accessible without a ticket. This is where to get your prints, posters and postcards, not to mention those Monet napkins, Dürer mousepads and Miró fridge magnets you always wanted
- When you’re inside, also look out the windows into the palace courtyards. Notice how the facades are very plain – as is usual with buildings of this nature. After all, you invest your money in the ornamentation that most people will actually see, namely your outside walls
How to get to the Albertina
The main museum is very central, sitting behind the Hofburg palace complex.
Subway: nearest stations are around 4-6 minutes away on foot – Stephansdom (U1 and U3 lines) and Karlsplatz (U1, U2 and U4 lines).
Bus: take the 2A to Albertinaplatz.
Tram: the closest tram stops are on the nearby Ring boulevard, and just a few minutes walk away – Kärntner Ring/Oper (lines 1, 2, 62, 71 and D) and Burgring (lines 1, 2, 71 and D).
Address: Albertinaplatz 1, 1010 Vienna | Website