The Albertina Museum
, which houses an important collection that includes works by Monet and Renoir, started to remove 950,000 works of art from its leaking underground depot after the city of Vienna some of Austria's heaviest downpours in 50 years.
The Albertina houses one of the largest and most important print rooms in the world with approximately 65,000 drawings and approximately 1 million old master prints, as well as more modern graphic works, photographs and architectural drawings. Apart from the graphics collection the museum has recently acquired on permanent loan two significant collections of Impressionist and early 20th century art, some of which are on permanent display.
The museum will remain open but workers started moving the works of art yesterday.
"There has not been any damage to the works so far," museum spokeswoman Verena Dahlitz told Reuters on Wednesday.
The collection will be moved from central Vienna to another location in Austria and the museum does not yet know how long the operation will take, reported Reuters.
Vienna's Albertina was erected on one of the last remaining sections of the fortifications of Vienna, the Augustian Bastion. Originally, the Hofbauamt (Court Construction Office), which had been built in the second half of the 17th century, stood in that location. In 1745, it was refurbished by the director of the Hofbauamt, Emanuel Teles Count Silva-Tarouca, to become his palace. It was therefore also known as Palais Taroucca. The building was later taken over by Duke Albert of Saxen-Teschen. He used it as his residence and later brought his graphics collection there from Brussels, where he had acted as the governor of the Habsburg Netherlands. For that purpose, he had the building extended by Louis Montoyer. Since then, the palace has immediately bordered the Hofburg. The collection was expanded by Albert's successors.
The collection was created by Duke Albert with the Genoese count Giacomo Durazzo (Austrian ambassador in Venice). In 1776 the count presented nearly 1,000 pieces of art to Duke Albert and his wife Marie-Christine (Maria Theresia's daughter). Graf Giacomo Durazzo - brother of Marcello Durazzo (Doge of Genoa) - "wanted to create a collection for posterity that served higher purposes than all others: education and the power of morality should distinguish his collection..." . In the 1820s Archduke Charles initiated further modifications of the building by Joseph Kornhäusel, which affected mostly the interior decoration. After Archduke Charles, Archduke Albert and Archduke Friedrich, Duke of Teschen lived in the building.
In early 1919, the building and the collection passed from the Habsburgs into the ownership of the Republic of Austria. In 1920, the collection of prints and drawings was unified with the collection of the former imperial court library. The name Albertina was established in 1921. In March 1945, the Albertina was heavily damaged by bomb attacks. The Albertina was completely refurbished and modernized from 1998 to 2003, and the graphics collection only reopened in 2008.