We frequently hear that the Musée d’Orsay is in its thirties. In fact, this age is the age of the museum, but not of the building that houses it. This building is filled with history and was built in the nineteenth century. Its history has made it the ideal spot for a museum. It currently displays various works of art that are well worth a visit when you are passing through.
The history of the Palais d’Orsay
Before it became a museum, a palace called “le palais d’Orsay” was built during the regime of Napoleon the First in 1810. The palace was intended to serve as a refuge for the Council of State and the Court of Auditors. The residence fulfilled its purpose for about thirty years until it suffered a sad fate. In 1871, the building was burnt down due to the uprisings of the time. The fire was known to be the most appalling ever, and only ruins of the palace remained. The wreckage stayed there for almost thirty years until it was decided to construct a railway station for the World Exhibition in 1898. The station opened in 1900 and due to various problems that arose over time, the station closed and gave way to a variety of occupations such as a shipping house, an auction house, a reception centre for prisoners of war, but also a residence for a theatre company before eventually becoming the Musée d’Orsay that we know today.
The Musée d’Orsay
The Musée d’Orsay was inaugurated by President Giscard d’Estaing in 1977, the idea being to convert the old railway station into a museum, a place to display pieces of the national collection. His idea was not implemented until four years later, under the direction of President Mitterrand. Indeed, the renovation of the building took six consecutive years. The museum opened its doors to the general public in 1986, and has become a place that draws tourists from all over the world, with more than three million visitors per year.
Artworks to see at the Musée d’Orsay
The Musée d’Orsay boasts thousands of must-see pieces from the nineteenth century. The following is a list of the most significant paintings from the time when the museum was still a palace:
– The Gleaners, by Jean-François Millet
– Les Raboteurs de parquet, by Gustave Caillebotte
– The Luncheon on the Grass, by Édouard Manet
– La Gare Saint-Lazare, by Claude Monet
– Coquelicots, by Claude Monet
– Femme à l’ombrelle tournée vers la droite, by Claude Monet
– Autoportrait, by Vincent van Gogh
– Starry night, by Vincent van Gogh