By the end of 2002, the renovation of the Albertina should be complete with its totally new exhibition concept.
The founder of this world-renowned collection is Duke Albert von Sachsen-Teschen (1738–1822). During the course of his almost 50-year career as an art collector and with the support of his wife Marie Christine, one of Empress Maria Theresa‘s daughters, he established the basis of the present collection. After his death, his descendants kept expanding his artistic legacy. When the Hapsburg monarchy collapsed, the new owner of the priceless collection became the newly founded Austrian Republic. In 1920 it was united with the print collection housed in the former imperial Court Library. Since 1921, both collections have been known by their present name: Albertina.
The collection encompasses outstanding masterpieces by the top names of Western art: Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, as well as more recent works by Claude Lorrain, Eugène Delacroix, Edouard Manet and Paul Cézanne. In the 20th century, the Albertina acquired many works by Austrian artists Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka and by international artists such as Pablo Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg and Anselm Kiefer. The collection undergoes permanent expansion through continuous acquisitions; the main focus nowadays is the acquisition of top contemporary works of art.