Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Orsay Museum Celebrates 30 years.

Thirty years ago the Orsay museum opened to the public. Since then, it has become one of the most popular attractions in Paris as it  holds  the world's most important collection of Impressionist and Post Impressionist paintings.

Gare d'Orsay-circa 1900
The museum is housed in a former  railroad station built in  between 1898 and 1900 in the Beaux Arts style.  The Orsay station was located on left bank of the River Seine and faced the Tuileries garden and the Louvre. The  station opened on the occasion of  the 1900 Paris World Fair and  ran trains on the southwest line from Paris to Orleans.

Musee d'Orsay Facade-
 The appointed architect, Victor Laloux (1850-1937), had the station industrial steel structure  masked on the outside by a handsome stone facade to blend harmoniously with the elegant architecture of the surroundings. The interior was also planned by Laloux and decorated by famed painters and sculptors of the era.   The main feature of the station is the great hall which is 32 m high, 40 m wide and 138 m long. Because the trains were electrified and did not emit smoke and steam, the station was enclosed with a glass roof. A large handsome gold clock in the central aisle marked the time.

Musee d'Orsay Great Hall

The main line railway  ceased to operate in 1939 because  innovations in railways made the station short platform obsolete for the longer electric trains.   Over the next decades it was used for staging various events like a movie set for such film as Orson Well's "The Trial" or as performance space for the  Theater company Renault-Barrault or as a space for the auctioneers from the Drouot Auction House. In the 1970's the station was scheduled to be demolished to be replaced by a hideous modern hotel.  Thankfully, this did not come to pass and instead the station was placed on the list of historical monuments to be converted into a museum.

 In 1980, the task of  renovating the space from former railroad to museum was awarded to an Italian female architect and interior designer Gae Auletti (1927-2012). It took several years to complete the project and on December 1, 1986 the new museum was inaugurated and subsequently opened to the public on  December 9.  It was from the start a great success and now it attracts more than a 3 million visitors a year.

Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe- Edouard Manet

The Orsay Museum focuses on French modern art from 1848-1915 and holds about 6000 works of art, not all on display at one time, covering paintings, drawings, sculptures, architecture, decorative arts, ceramics and textiles.   In addition it hold an impressive collection of  photography, amounting to some 12,000 photographs.

La Gare St. Lazare- Claude Monet

Its main attraction is its Impressionist and Post Impressionist collection with works by  Gustave Courbet, Jean Francois Millet, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Paul Cezanne, Pierre-August Renoir, Camille Pissaro, Vincent van Gogh, Toulouse Lautrec and much much more.

Four Quarters of the World-
Jean Baptiste Carpeaux
Its sculpture collection, located  in the central aisle,  includes works by Jean Baptiste Carpeaux, Francois Rude, August Rodin, Camille Claudel, August Bartholdi to name a few.
The Musee d'Orsay located at 1 rue de la Legion d'Honneur, is opened everyday except on Mondays from 9:30AM to 6:30PM.  and on Thursdays till  9:15PM.  It is best to buy tickets in advance either online or have a museum pass in order to skip the lines.

Musee d'Orsay Restaurant
When visiting the  Musee d'Orsay,  enjoy  lunch or dinner at one of the two restaurants in the museum.  On the first floor  you will find the former restaurant of the hotel d'Orsay.  The elegant dining room with its large windows overlooking the River Seine has retained the dazzling crystal chandeliers and the  painted and gilded ceiling  circa 1900.

Musee d'Orsay Cafe Campana
More recent is the Cafe Campana located on the 5th floor on  the same level as the Impressionist gallery.  It impresses by its contemporary gold and orange designs and  the large clock that offers breathtaking views of the city.

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