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Augustinerstrasse 1 vienna

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Housed in a beautiful, meticulously restored palace that dates to the late 1600s, Vienna’s Albertina museum has one of the world’s largest graphic art collections, including drawings by Dürer, Michelangelo and Rembrandt. Most impressive are the palace’s Hapsburg staterooms, which were made accessible to the public for the first time in 2003, when the Albertina reopened after being shuttered for nearly a decade. The ultramodern titanium roof that juts out from over the palace’s entrance, in stark juxtaposition to the Baroque sculpture of Erzherzog Albrecht on horseback, was designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Hans Hollein and caused quite a controversy when it was unveiled (some locals likened it to a ski chute).

An interesting detail to note is that most of the drawings on display in the Albertina are actually reprints; the originals are kept in a vault and come out only for special exhibits. I was tipped off to this fact when I found myself standing alone in front of Dürer’s famous A Young Hare watercolor with nary a guard or alarm system in sight. When I asked a museum employee, she explained that the originals are extremely fragile and nearly impossible to insure (the Albertina has 50,000 drawings and approximately a million Old Master prints).

The Albertina hosts fantastic temporary exhibits that are always worth seeing. After a visit, take a short stroll to the Hofgarten and have lunch or coffee at the Palmenhaus. Open daily.

Written by Simone Girner

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