A museum in a station
The history of the museum, of its building is quite unusual. In the centre of Paris on the banks of the Seine, opposite the Tuileries Gardens, the museum was installed in the former Orsay railway station, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. So the building itself could be seen as the first “work of art” in the Musee d’Orsay, which displays collections of art from the period 1848 to 1914.
From station to museum
The hotel closed its doors on January 1st, 1973, not without having played a historic role: the General de Gaulle held the press conference announcing his return to power in its ballroom (the Salle des FÃªtes).
In 1975, the Direction des MusÃ©es de France already considered installing a new museum in the train station, in which all of the arts from the second half of the 19th century would be represented. The station, threatened with destruction and replacement by a large modern hotel complex, benefitted instead from the revival of interest in nineteenth-century architecture and was listed on the Supplementary Inventory of Historical Monuments on March 8, 1973. The official decision to build the MusÃ©e d’Orsay was taken during the interministerial council of October 20, 1977, on President ValÃ©ry Giscard d’Estaing’s initiative. The building was classified a Historical Monument in 1978 and a civil commission was created to oversee the construction and organisation of the museum. The President of the Republic, FranÃ§ois Mitterrand, inaugurated the new museum on December 1st, 1986, and it opened to the public on December 9th.
The museum has been organised on three levels: on the ground floor, galleries are distributed on either side of the central nave, which is overlooked by the terraces of the median level, these in turn opening up into additional exhibition galleries. The top floor is installed above the lobby, which covers the length of the Quai, and continues into the highest elevations of the former hotel, over the rue de la LÃ©gion d’Honneur (formerly rue de Bellechasse).
The museum’s specific exhibition spaces and different facilities are distributed throughout the three levels: the pavilion Amont, the glass walkway of the former station’s western pinion, the museum restaurant (installed in the dining hall of the former hotel), the CafÃ© des Hauteurs, the bookshop and the auditorium.
History of the collections
- A national, multidisciplinary museum
The national museum of the MusÃ©e d’Orsay opened to the public on 9 December 1986 to show the great diversity of artistic creation in the western world between 1848 and 1914. It was formed with the national collections coming mainly from three establishments:
- from the Louvre museum, for the works of artists born after 1820 or coming to the fore during the Second Republic;
- from the MusÃ©e du Jeu de Paume, which since 1947 had been devoted to Impressionism;
- and lastly from the National Museum of Modern Art, which, when it moved in 1976 to the Centre Georges Pompidou, only kept works of artists born after 1870.
But each artistic discipline represented in the MusÃ©e d’Orsay collections has its own history :
- Painting Collection
- Sculture Collection
- Objets d’Art Collection
- Photographic Collection
- Graphic Arts Collection
The MusÃ©e d’Orsay collections contain many large-scale works, not easily put on public display because of their size.
In order to provide these ambitious and spectacular paintings with the space they deserve, room 24 has been entirely rearranged.
Moreover, the creation of this space for large-scale works is part of a much bigger project aiming to improve the presentation of the works of art. From today, a number of rooms have redesigned lighting and new colours for the exhibition walls, and there will be further changes in other areas of the museum over the coming months.
Large works in room 24
as of mythology and allegory. Amidst the triumph of landscape and genre scenes, its supporters maintained the artistic tradition of ambitious subjects, noble forms and powerful expression.
9.30am to 6pm
9.30am to 9.45pm on Thursdays
Closed on mondays
Entrance A: individual visitors without ticket
Entrance C: members, visitors with tickets or passes, priority access
MusÃ©e d’Orsay entrance: 1, rue de la LÃ©gion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris.0