Albertina museum 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 will be on permanent display. The museum also houses temporary exhibitions.
The Albertina was erected on one of the last remaining sections of the fortifications of Vienna, the Augustinian Bastion. In 1744 the building was refurbished by 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 who used it as his residence. He later brought his graphics collection there from Brussels, where he had acted as the governor of the Habsburg Netherlands. 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, the Austrian ambassador in Venice. In 1776 the count presented nearly 1,000 pieces of art to the duke and his wife Maria Christina (Maria Theresa's daughter).
In early 1919, ownership of both the building and the collection passed from the Habsburgs to the newly founded Republic of Austria. In 1920 the collection of prints and drawings was united 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 Allied bomb attacks. The building was rebuilt in the years after the war and was completely refurbished and modernized from 1998 to 2003. Modifications of the exterior entrance sequence, including a signature roof by Hans Hollein were completed 2008, when also the graphics collection finally reopened.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.