Opened in July in 1900 for the Worlds Fair as a train station and operated as one until 1939. It was considered very modern at the time with elevators, lifts for luggage and even a stunning elegant hotel contained inside the train station. Then in 1939 it was unable to update for electric trains that would soon begin using the station, the station closed and it was used for other things; a movie set, a mail sorting station during the war, an auction house, it even housed a theatre company for awhile.
In 1973 the hotel closed its doors and the space remained empty until the idea for a museum came to light. Plans were drawn up and voila, in 1986 the Musée d’Orsay opened its doors showcasing late 19th and early 20th century art. It has it’s own Metro and train station stop right near the entrance. The collection is now arranged so as you walk through, the art is arranged as it tells a story of the time period through art.
After walking in to the entrance of the museum, you are taken aback by the openness of the building. Walking down the polished marble staircase into the middle gallery that contains the sculptures, you look towards the ceiling of glass that lights the interior of the center gallery. Even on a cloudy day the light that pours through those windows and illuminates all those amazing sculptures.
There are galleries to the left and right and far too many paintings and object of art to write about right now, so I will jump to what are my favorites in this museum.
George Seurat is one of my cherished artists, remember in the movie “Ferris Beullers Day Off”? The scene when they are inside the Art Institute of Chicago standing in from of Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte . From that moment on I wanted to see everything Seurat. His pointillist paintings give me awe and make me walk up close to see how he placed each dot then slowly back up and watch as the individual dots become an entire painting of wonderfulness. Is that a word? I feel the same way about his painting Le Cirque…
Moving onto the upper floors you are met with the backside of a giant clock and as you watch you can see the gears turning until the huge second hand moves to the next minute in time. You can lounge in what I like to call the octopus sofa, a rather large round sofa in the middle of the room with places to sit coming out from the middle of the sofa.
At this point I want to shout out to a new friend whose blog is fabulous called Paris Haiku and there is s picture of this clock from the inside the museum when you first open the blog, check it out at and join her blog at: http://parishaiku.com/
Anyway, then you wander around seeing iconic paintings: Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone, Jean-Francois Millet’s Gleaners, Renoir’s Bal du Moulin de la Galette, Edgar Degas’ L’Absinthe (don’t drink that stuff, it will kill you), Monet’s Haystacks, Paul Gauguin’s Tahitian Women on the Beach and Gustave Caillebotte’s Floor Scrapers. You can see the delicate curls of the wood and varnish as the men toil over their work and the curves of the rail outside the window looking out to a warm beautiful day while they sweat and work inside a dark room. One of my favorites.
There is so much art in just one museum you can never see it all in one visit, there is not enough time in a day, so…maybe I will go again next week just so I can gaze upon each painting and pick out some small detail that I overlooked before. It’s easy to do that because you are so taken with the magnificent art in it entirety that it is easy to miss a small important detail.
Happy Museum Monday to you all! If there is a museum suggestion, please send me a note.
Your “In Seine” Blonde, Lisa
One thought on “Musée d’ Orsay on Museum Monday”
Great writeup Lisa, you get an A+ 🙂 I have always liked the impressionists, one of my favorite styles of painting!!! I can only imagine how amazing to see all those works. I especially enjoy seeing groups of men toiling away at work and getting sweaty (lol). Thanks also for the link to the other Paris blog. Thanks, have a great week!