“Catastrophe” for Vienna’s Albertina

VIENNA. Albertina director Dr Klaus Albrecht Schröder told The Art Newspaper that the financial crisis has been a “catastrophe” for his museum. In the past few weeks it has lost well over €2m in support.

An anonymous European donor had played a major role in supporting the Albertina’s efforts to build up an important photographic collection. He has temporarily ended his assistance, which would have provided €1m. An undisclosed Austrian company has in recent years pledged an annual E1m to fund purchases of contemporary art. It has just asked for a break in 2009. In addition, €500,000 had been promised by a bank some months ago, but although discussions are continuing, the Albertina is not optimistic about an agreement.

Two major exhibitions are going unsponsored: “Gerhard Richter: Retrospective” (opening 30 January) and “The Age of Rembrandt” (opening 4 March). Both are ambitious shows, each with over 160 works, and in normal circumstances it would have been simple to find sponsors.

In December Dr Schröder was forced to introduce large financial cuts, slashing the Albertina’s budget by a total of €12m over the next three years. This has already led to the cancellation of a Jörg Immendorff show scheduled for September. Although the Albertina is a state museum, it is particularly vulnerable because it gets a larger proportion of its budget from the private sector than others in Austria.

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