It was built as a Jesuit college in 1651, but since 1776 has been the seat of the Accademia di Belle Arti, and contains besides the picture gallery a library of some 300,000 volumes, a collection of coins numbering about 60,000, and an excellent observatory founded in 1766.
Next come the imperial treasury at the Hofburg, already mentioned; the famous collection of drawings and engravings known as the Albertina in the palace of the archduke Frederick, which contains over 200,000 engravings and 16,000 drawings; the picture gallery of the academy of art; the collection of the Austrian museum of art and industry; the historical museum of the city of Vienna; and the military museum at the arsenal.
Opposite to it, on the north side, and adjoining the pretty palace gardens, are the court theatre and the armoury, and a little farther west the handsome buildings of the new museum, erected in 1905 and containing the valuable scientific and art collections of the state, which were formerly housed in the palace: a library of 600,000 volumes and 4000 MSS., a museum of Egyptian and German antiquities, a picture gallery with masterpieces of old German and Dutch schools, a natural history collection and the state archives.
It possesses a famous painting of the Last Judgment, formerly attributed to Jan van Eyck, but probably by Memlinc. Among other ancient buildings of note are the beautiful Gothic town hall, surmounted by a graceful spire, the armoury (Zeughaus) and the Franciscan monastery, restored in 1871, and now housing the municipal picture gallery and a collection of antiquities.
Many other churches, and the picture gallery (Galleria Martinengo), contain fine works of the painters of the Brescian school, Alessandro Bonvicino (generally known as Moretto), Girolamo Romanino and Moretto's pupil, Giovanni Battista Moroni.
The municipal picture gallery contains a collection of pictures, and among them are some primitive frescoes, attributable to the 12th century, which still retain traces of Byzantine influence.
The picture gallery of the Brera, one of the finest in Italy, occupies an imposing palace with a good courtyard by Ricchini.
In Dux is a castle belonging to Count Waldstein, a kinsman of Wallenstein, which contains a picture gallery with two portraits of Wallenstein by Van Dyck, and a museum with a collection of arms and armour and several relics of the great general.
In the upper rooms is placed a large collection of Milanese and central Italian ceramics, stuffs, furniture, bronzes, ivories, enamels, glass and historical relics; together with a picture gallery containing works by Vincenzo Foppa, Gianpietrino, Boltraffio, Crivelli, Pordenone, Morone, Cariani, Correggio, Antonello da Messina, Tiepolo, Guardi, Potter, Van Dyck and Ribeira.
Stadel in 1816, contains a picture gallery and a cabinet of engravings extremely rich in works of German art.