It’s one of the most well-known museums in Paris, and in fact, the world. Its collection is housed in an old train station, the Gare d’Orsay, which was finished in 1900 and was built for the Universal Exhibition in the same year. So really, the station was a work of art in and of itself.
It houses works by mostly French artists from the mid-1800s up to the beginning of the First World War in 1914, bridging the gap between the Louvre and the National Museum of Modern Art in the Pompidou Centre. Over the course of the year, around 3,000,000 people will visit the museum, which is more-or-less the populations of the city of Liverpool, and Greater Manchester combined. The more you know…
As soon as you step inside, you’re met with an entire atrium full of sculptures, flanked by small rooms of paintings, grouped chronologically, or by artist. Walk about halfway down the room, turn 180°, and you get a great view of the old train clock surrounded by its golden frame. This picture is from a different angle, but it’s still the clock:
The museum’s collection is spread over five floors and many, many rooms. It’s quite bizarre though how you can go from the atrium in all its beaux-arts glory, and then, less than 100m later, be in a room that could have come straight from Versailles.
One of the benefits of visiting such a well-known museum is that they have the ability to showcase the most famous pieces of art in the world. I am a huge lover of Van Gogh, so I was in heaven when I found an entire room, just off from the central sculpture gallery, entirely dedicated to his works, such as this – L’église d’Auvers-sur-Oise.
Being the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings in the world, you can find works from many more of the art world’s greats, such as Cezanne, Monet, Renoir, and Degas; with subjects ranging from the mundane manual labour in Caillebotte’s Raboteurs de parquet (1875) to the outrageously French Rue Montorgueil (1878) by Monet.
Almost every single visit to the Musée d’Orsay includes a stop at its more famous clock on the 5th floor. If you want to see it, and get a decent picture, free of people though, prepare for an early wake up! As you can see from the picture, I was not up early… The view from this clock is good, if you can get close enough! It looks out onto the Louvre and the Jardin de Tuileries, both on the opposite side of the Seine.
There’s far too much at this one museum to fit into a single post, so I really do recommend a trip if you’re in need of things to do in Paris! You can dedicate an entire day to it as well, but if you don’t want to spend a fortune at the museum restaurant, bring snacks! I have put my photos, including those in this post, onto Flickr, so have a look there. As always, I’ll drop a link to their website here, and please do subscribe to my blog to get occasional updates/round-ups of the best bits!