Musée d’Orsay : a real must-see (2 videos below, on this page)
Not only a great museum, but a great building too. The building itself is worth a visit.
The Musée d’Orsay is located on the left bank of the river Seine, in the 7th arrondissement (= district) of Paris.
It shows the arts of the period from 1848 to 1914 (it picks up where the Louvre ends) : paintings, sculptures, furniture and photography. It’s the world’s largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art work from the period 1848 – 1904
The collections :
The museum exhibits impressionist and post impressionist collections and let a lot of space to the earlier Realists. Also temporary exhibitions
The impressionist and post impressionist paintings include works by Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Berthe Morisot, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat, Vincent Van Gogh….
The French impressionists : the great revolution of the 19th century, began in Paris in the 1860s. The artists started to break with the academic values of the past.
The Impressionist movement has no founder though Manet and Courbet inspired many of the younger artists. However, one says that the name “Impressionism” comes from a painting by Claude Monet : “Impression” (= “Sunrise »), a view from Le Havre in the mist from 1872.
The impressionist artists aimed to capture the impression of what the eye sees at a given moment. Their favourite subjects were : landscapes, and scenes from the urban life.
The leading neo-Impressionist was Georges Seurat.
It took later generations to fully appreciate the work of the Impressionists. In 1863, Manet’s “Le déjeuner sur l’herbe” was rejected by the officiel salon of that year. Cezanne was rejected all his life. Degas sold only one painting to a museum an dSisley died unknown. Only Renoir and Monet were ever acclaimed in their lifetimes.
- Ground floor : all paintings prior to 1870 : Degas before 1870, first Monet’s paintings, Toulouse, Lautrec, Cezanne, Manet, Courbet…
- The museum central aisle : an assorted selection of sculptures of the middle of the 19th century.. and a copy of the Statue of Liberty.
- Level 2 : Gauguin and Van Gogh (number 70,71,72 rooms) …
- Level 5 : the collection of impressionist art (Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, Pissaro, Sisley…)—————————————————————
A quick visit of The Orsay Museum before you come !
ORSAY : The story of an old railway station
The museum building was originally a 19th railway station called “Orléans station” after the name of the city of Orléans. The trains were going from Paris to the city of Orléans. It was built between 1898 and 1900. The railway station closed late 19th century. It reopened as the Musée d’Orsay in 1986.
The Italian architect Gaetana Aulenti (1927 – 2012), reinvented the Orleans train station, She was a defiant figure in a field dominated by men, one of 2 women to graduate in the class of 1954, of the Milan Polytechnic School of Architecture. “…She’ll be remembered for the audacity of her vision.” (The New York Times)—–—————————————————
A 1 minute video, to know more about Orsay museum amazing story :
Practical details :
- Address : 1 rue de la Légion d’honneur. +33 (0) 1 40 49 48 14
- Metro stop : Solférino – RER C : Musée d’Orsay Buses : 24, 68, 69, 84 – Batobus stop : « Musée d’Orsay » nearby
- Opening time : 9.30 am – 6pm Tues-Sun (9.45pm on Thursdays) Closed on Mondays, on 5/01 and on 12/25 – Last ticket sold 1 hour before closing.
- You can take photos inside the museum (but with no flash) – A great news for all the photographers !
- Audioguides are available in English (and in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Japonese, Chinese and Russian for 5 euros
- 2 restaurants : Ground floor, level 1 (« The restaurant ») and Level 5 (Café Campana)
- and a café (“Café de L’ours” : for a light lunch – at the ground floor )
- One of the restaurants called “Le restaurant” is located on the 1st floor. It’s the former restaurant of the Hôtel d’Orsay (which was a part of the Orléans (=Orsay) train station. It is still as it was when it opened in 1900 and is listed as a Historic Monument.
- To buy your tickets in advance on line www.musee-orsay.fr/en/visit/admission/ticket-purchase.html (booking on line is recommanded). Admission fee : 12 euros
- Combined tickets with Musée Rodin also available (18 euros)
- No entry fee on the First Sunday of each month.
- -18s : free
My advice :
- A real must-see on your visit to Paris especially if you are an impressionist art lover. A gem. The architecture is beautiful and the building itself is worth seeing. I love it. But the collection of impressionist and neo impressionist art is fantastic. This is one of my favorite museums in Paris. This museum may be your favorite in Paris !! Don’t miss it.
- Choose to visit the Musée d’Orsay at opening time. (for a more peaceful visit). The crowd and the queues can be quite large. Better not choose a weekend day.
- Prepare your visit before you come : look at the map of the museum and choose the artists and paintings you want to see first. Allow a minimum of 2 hours for your visit, A whole morning or afternoon is better. but you could easily spend an entire day looking at everything !
- My advice would be to start visiting the 5th floor. Don’t miss the 5th floor where the most famous works are located
- Important : buy your tickets on line It’s highly recommended. Sometimes if you’ven’t got a ticket, you may wait more than one hour.
- Don’t miss the several giants clocks which are wonderful and very impressive (at the ground floor – a golden huge clock and at the level 5 – a glass clocks)
- Also a great view over central Paris from the level 5‘ : from the terrace and through the large glass clock !. But this winter (2016) it had to be seen though the museum’s windows (terrace not opened)
- Other paintings by Monet are exhibited in Paris or nearby Paris : at Musée Marmottan Monet (in Paris), Orangerie Museum (in Paris) and Giverny (located 75 km west from Paris)