Things to Know before you Visit Musée d’Orsay

Orsay Tour
Paris Tourist Attractions

Musée d’Orsay is a wonderful museum situated near the banks of River Seine in Paris. The railway station Gare d’Orsay that was built between 1898 and 1900 houses the museum.

You could see an aesthetical building across the river from the Louvre Museum. This is the magnificent building housing Musée d’Orsay, which can be identified with the enormous clock in its top. This wonderful museum should surely be included in your tour itinerary, if you are an art enthusiast. An Orsay tour takes you through a collection of French artworks that date from 1848 to 1914.

This museum is also the 5th most visited spot in France after the Louvre Museum, Palace of Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, and Disneyland Paris. About 2 million locals and travelers pay their visit to the Musée d’Orsay each year. There are many interesting things about this museum. Some of them are facts about the museum others are even myths and legends about how the museum came to its existence. Read on to know some of the most interesting facts about this spectacular museum.

Once a Train Station

Paris organized a Universal Exhibition in 1900, which showcased the achievements it earned in the last 100 years. The great exhibition, which was hosted from 14 April to 12 November in the year 1900, was a massive success with over 50 million visitors. The government of France, who had anticipated this massive audience, built a railway station to help the people reach the Universal Exhibition easily. The title of the first electrified railway terminal also goes to the Gare d’Orsay. It is this railway station, which was converted into Musée d’Orsay 75 years later.

Three Architects Built Gare d’Orsay

The architects Lucien Magne, Émile Bénard and Victor Laloux were responsible for the construction of this railway station, which later was converted into the Musée d’Orsay. The team that was headed by Victor Laloux finished the construction of this incredible railway station within just 2 years. The station was inaugurated on 28 May 1900, which was by the time of the Universal Exhibition in Paris.

Dimensions of Musée d’Orsay

The museum has huge spatial dimensions. The historical museum is 175 meters long and 75 meters wide. The central hall of the museum has a length of 140 meters, 40 meters of breadth and a height of 32 meters.

Musee D Orsay Tours
Paris Sightseeing Tours

Another interesting finding of this museum is that the construction of this railway station made use of more metal than that of the Eiffel Tower. Almost 12,000 tons of metal was used for its construction, which is far more than the total amount of metal used for the construction of the Eiffel Tower.

This museum is also made up of 35,000 square meters of glass. One of the motives in using a large number of glass works is to light up the interior of the building. Let us make some comparisons to give you a clear picture of the size of this museum.

  • The total area of a football field is 700 square meters. That makes the glass used in the Orsay museum equal to the area of five football fields.
  • It is also twice the area of Kennedy Center Opera House.
  • The area covered by the glass is also equivalent to half of the overall floor space of Buckingham Palace.

Gare d’Orsay Station Had a Hotel

The railway station as it was fully made up of metal was not so pleasing to the eyes. In order to mask this appearance of the station the clever architect, Victor Laloux built a facade hotel. He built a hotel with 370 rooms on the southern and western sides of Gare d’Orsay. This hotel was closed in 1973 as its charisma faded away.

Used as a Hub of Activity during World War

The Gare d’Orsay was used as a mailing center for sending packages to the prisoners at the time of the Second World War. This station also served as a reception to the French prisoners who came back home when the war came to an end.

Victim to Advancing Railway Technology

With the advance of technology, the platforms of Gare d’Orsay became too small for the modern trains. Therefore, the station had to close in less than 40 years of its inauguration. The idle station was used for many purposes like as parking lot, a shooting stand, and even as a theatre.

Almost Demolished

The railway station was almost demolished as in 1970 when the permission for demolishing the station was given. The plan was to build a hotel in its place. However, the French Minister for Cultural Affairs, Jacques Duhamel, came to its defense and protected the historic monument.

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