The beautifully preserved Orsay Museum is one of the most popular museums in the world. Part train station, it is housed in the former Orsay station, which was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. The station was closed in 1939 due to its inability to hold more modern trains, which were larger in size. It was reopened as a Museum in 1986, with a massive collection of French art from the period of 1848-1914.
The Architecture of the Building
Orsay Museum looks like an old railway station from the outside. As you would expect from seeing the impressive exterior architecture, the inside of the museum is simply stunning. The 138 meters-long hall of the former-station is today the main artery of the museum, and the great glass awning is its main entrance. The ceilings with large glass windows of 35,000 square meters, naturally light up the interior.
The Collection of Impressionist Art
The Orsay Museum is primarily the museum of Impressionism in France (1848-1914).This chosen period was a turning point in the history of art, and gave birth to a large number of impressive paintings, decorative arts, sculptures and many artistic expressions such as Impressionism. The two main existing museums in Paris at that time were the Louvre, and the National Museum of Modern Art at the Pompidou Centre.
The Orsay Museum was built in order to bridge the gap between these two museums. Today, it holds the world’s largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist artistic masterpieces. Impressionism can be clearly seen and admired in paintings by Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir or Cézanne. The paintings from Seurat, Gauguin or Van Gogh represent Post-impressionism. In addition to that, there are paintings by Seurat and Signac here, which represent Neo-impressionism.
The View of Paris
Orsay Museum offers you a brilliant view of Paris. The museum has two great spots that offer a feast for the eyes. The first spot is at the second floor, from behind the great clock, which gives you a spectacular view of the Seine River.
The second view is from the terrace, which is located above the Café des Hauteurs, at the last floor of the museum. This spot gives an amazing view of the Seine River, its bridges, and the great monuments of the right bank, such as the Louvre Museum, or the Garnier Opera. If it were not cloudy, you would also be able to see the Montmartre hill and the Sacred Heart Church there.