Tips for Visiting the Musee d'Orsay Video

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The Musee d'Orsay is a museum in Paris, France, on the left bank of the Seine. It is housed in the former Gare d'Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1915, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography.


The museum was actually opened for the World Fair in July of 1900 to be a train station, and until 1939 it operated as the Gare d'Orsay. Previously the site had been a palace that was burnt down in 1871. When the Orleans Railroad Company wanted to build a more central train station on the spot they were challenged by the impressive architecture nearby, not only the Louvre but the immediate neighbor, the Palais de la Legion d'Honneur, which is also an interesting stop on any tour of the History of France. It houses profiles of figures from French history who have been awarded the Legion of Honor accolade.

Facts About the Orsay Train Station

The Orsay train station was a glorious achievement, and was considered very modern at the time with elevators for passengers, lifts for luggage, and an elegant hotel. However in 1939, the station was unable to modernize for the electric trains of the time and began to serve other uses. It was a film set, a mail center during World War Two, an auction house, and even housed a theater company. The Hotel closed it's doors in 1973 and the space was directionless for a short time until the idea to put a museum there began to take shape in the late 70s.

Orsay as a Museum

In 1986 the Musee d'Orsay opened its doors as a museum showcasing late 19th and early 20th century art. The building itself probably being the first piece in the collection. It's easy to get to, having it's own metro and train station stop right next to the entrance. While the museum focuses on a particular epoch in history those who run it are not stuck there. They have recently redesigned the collection to have greater significance as you wander the circuit they have conceived to tell you the story of creative work of the period.

Exhibits at Musee d'Orsay

The museum also houses temporary exhibits that will fascinate you as they flesh out particular movements or work of the era, sometimes taking a very interesting perspective. They also offer concerts and other entertaining events, be sure to check their website as well as our Paris guide for more information.

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