Musee D’Orsay in Paris: A Glimpse of Its Rich History
A haven located in the heart of Paris that houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world, Musee D’Orsay is considered as one of the world’s most beautiful museums. Decorated with beautiful arches and marble works, the museum was built in a former Beaux-Arts railway station in preparation for the Exposition Universelle of 1900.
The Gare d’ Orsay railway station was built as a transport hub between the years 1898 to 1900 and it was artistically designed by 3 leading architects; Victor Laloux, Lucien Magne and Emile Benard. By 1970, the station had little use and the French government decided to demolish the building. Thankfully the plans of demolition were stopped by Jacques Duhamel who was the minister for cultural affairs. Instead, the beautiful building earned a place in the supplementary section of the Historic Monuments list. Facing the Louvre and the Tuileries gardens right across the Seine River, the Orsay Museum is a gem in the middle of Paris.
The extraordinary collection spans art created in the period between 1848 and 1914. Works by painters including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, and Van Gogh are spread out across the galleries. On the ground floor, formerly the building’s train platforms, extensive stone structures broke up the space and created a central nave for the sculpture collection and gallery spaces for painting and decorative arts. Musee D’Orsay is known as the home of the Impressionists; where you can admire Pissarro’s landscapes; Cezanne’s iconic Card Players; Manet’s Olympia and his seminal Luncheon on the Grass. Monet’s own interpretation of Luncheon on the Grass too resides on the fifth floor, though selections from his Water Lilies series are undoubtedly his most celebrated canvases on display.
Today, Musée d’Orsay resides as one of the most admired art institutions in Paris and the world. A gem with rich history and intricately curated pieces, it is definitely a must see in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Photos by the author.