Albertina Flood

News Brief: July/August 2009

Flood rains penetrated the “waterproof” casing of the high security depot of the famed Albertina Museum on Tuesday Jun. 23.  More than 950,000 artworks of inestimable value, including Albrecht Duerer’s Rabbit, were threatened with destruction by the high waters.

Following the emergency evacuation of selected pieces, Dr. Klaus Albrecht Schroeder, Director of the Albertina, ordered for the rest of the artworks to be removed and for the depot to be completely cleared.

“We cannot risk another flood endangering the Albertina’s treasures,” Schroeder announced on the museum’s website.

At noon on Tuesday the highly sensitive humidity detectors of the Albertina Museum Depot sounded the alarm. The heavy rainfalls had taken their toll on the supposedly totally waterproof structure built out of reinforced concrete, installed during the major renovation only a few years ago.

Although Dr. Schroeder was not in Vienna, decisions were made long distance; the most valuable pieces were instantly evacuated, while the fire brigade covered the depot with plastic tarpaulins.  Frequent power failures made further evacuation even harder as some art was kept in a fully computerized vault, with two robots to handle the pieces.

Why the depot gave way to the water is as yet unknown. Investigations are underway by an independent evaluator. Fortunately, the museum was able to remain open to visitors throughout the crisis.

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