Vienna’s Highly Anticipated Albertina Modern’s Opening Has Been Indefinitely Postponed as Austria Orders Museums to Close

Austria's ministry of culture acts swiftly after Italy and Poland implement similarly drastic measures.

Albertina Modern. Photo: Rupert Steiner.

Austria’s most prestigious art museums have been forced to close as the country braces itself for an expected rise in coronavirus cases and fatalities. The highly anticipated Albertina Modern is caught in the middle of the public health crisis. Its opening was due to take place tomorrow, March 13, but the launch has been postponed indefinitely.

Austria is the latest European country to introduce drastic measures that include shuttering museums to curb the spread of the virus. Poland announced a similar move on Monday, and Italy, the worst affected country in Europe so far, closed all of its museums and major heritage sites on Tuesday.

Yesterday, the Austrian government banned all gatherings of more than 100 people at indoor events, or 500 people outdoors. The country has also instituted an entry ban on travelers from Italy. So far, Austria has confirmed 157 cases of the virus.

The Albertina’s general director, Klaus Albrecht Schröder, said that the museum would adhere to the formal decree issued by the federal museums directors board, which is trying to find a uniform strategy for all of its institutions. They include the prestigious Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, which is now shuttered. A note on its website explains that, due to the decree by the ministry of health and ministry of culture, the museum will be closed until April 3.

The public opening of Vienna’s new Modern and contemporary art museum will be postponed until late April or early May at the earliest, a spokesperson tells Artnet News. Meanwhile, Vienna’s historic Albertina Museum and its special exhibitions, will remain closed until further notice, according to its website.

The Albertina Modern is the result of a three-year renovation of the historic Künstlerhaus on the city’s museum-rich Karlsplatz. The around €50 million ($56 million) project will focus on post-1945 international and Austrian artists. Drawing on the Albertina’s collection, the Essl Collection, and the Jablonka Collection, the Albertina Modern has works by artists including Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Gerhard Richter, Hermann Nitsch, and VALIE EXPORT, among others.

Johanna Rachinger, the director general of Austria’s National Library, warned the loss of admission fees and other incomes will lead to a difficult financial situation for federal museums. “It will be difficult to keep our budgets,” she said.

Museum directors across Europe are anxiously forecasting the possible financial impact and cash-flow problems caused by coronavirus. Attendance looks set to fall, and may be limited by some institutions. The Museo del Prado in Madrid has cancelled events in its auditorium and it is limiting attendance at its free, late-night openings to 500 people while monitoring its most popular rooms.

Artnet News understands that the UK’s culture ministry is asking institutions to provide estimates of the problems they will face if there is a significant drop in visitor numbers and income generating activity.


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