"Not a day, nor even a week, will exhaust what this museum has to tell us."
New York Times Inauguration Review of Musée d’Orsay, 1986
On the left bank of the Seine in Paris there is a museum that, since its opening in 1986, has welcomed over 76 million visitors and is currently one of the 10 most visited art museums around the world: the Musée d’Orsay.
Housed in the former Gare d’Orsay—a railway station built between 1898 and 1900—this museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1915, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography.
This museum consolidates Paris's greatest 19th-century train station with Paris's greatest 19th-century art.
With three floors of exhibition space, it could be complicated to discover its greatness from 3,830 miles away. However, art historian Linda Skalet aptly tackled the challenge of exploring d’Orsay’s history, complete with a virtual tour through its collection and analysis of the cultural context of its artistic treasures during her seminar: “A Day at the Musée d’Orsay”. The tour began with d’Orsay’s golden years as a railway station, paused for a French-themed lunch, and then finished with a comprehensive survey of the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world.
Brief Insight to the Collection: Impressionist Revolution
Most of the displayed artworks inside the museum are from impressionist artists who violated the accepted rules of academic painting during the 19th-century. By emphasizing light and movement through a welter of new techniques and forms, the Impressionist Revolution showed itself to be not only a precursor to new painting styles, but also a strong reflection of how our perspective of the world was changing
The idea to turn the Gare d’Orsay into a museum came from the desire to provide a unique space that could bridge the gap between the traditional paintings of the Louvre and the artworks of the National Museum of Modern Art (MNAM) at the quirky Centre Georges Pompidou. Musée d’Orsay’s collection includes masterpieces by celebrated rebels that changed everything: Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, and Van Gogh.
Here is a look at some of the great artworks inside the Musée d’Orsay:
E.Manet, Luncheon on the Grass, 1863.
E.Manet, Olympia, 1863.
P.A. Renoir, Dancing at the Moulin de la Galette, 1876.
E.Degas, Absinthe, 1873.
P. Cezanne, The Card Players, 1873.
V.Van Gogh, The Dance Hall at Arles, 1888.
P. Gauguin, Arearea, 1892.
E. Degas, Young Dancer of Fourteen, 1881.
This museum displays some of the most celebrated works of French artists inspired by anecdotes of daily life and nature rather than composed images. Its collection praises color, line, and form which gives a glimpse into particular moments of artists’ daily lives. The Musée d’Orsay is one of the greatest compilations of brief, but sincere fragments of modern life that flaunts the beauty of anecdotes.
It is more than just a building; it is art itself.
For further information about its collection, visit:
Written by Nancy F. Sanchez Garcia