Musée d'Orsay. Museum in Paris, France

Musée d'Orsay

Museum in Paris, France

The Orsay Photo © Trey Ratcliff

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Musée d'Orsay

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The Musée d’Orsay is an art museum in the city center in Paris. It is located in a large, old railway station on the left bank of the River Seine (Wikipedia Article), the Gare d’Orsay, that was built between 1898 and 1900 in stunning Beaux-Arts style. It is one of the most visited museums in the world and houses the world’s largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art and also covers other art styles, such as expressionism, neoclassicism, romanticism, and art nouveau. The collection includes not only paintings, but also sculptures, decorative objects, and photographs. The museum is focused on French art from 1848 until 1914.

The Musée d’Orsay offers visitors the opportunit
y to look into the birth of modern art, including painting, sculpture, photography, and design. Masterpieces in the museum include works by world-renowned artists like Cézanne, Degas; Renoir, Van Gogh; Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec; Monet, and Manet.


Two large railway stations were built at the turn of the 19th century, the Gare d’Orsay and the Gare de Lyon. The Gare d’Orsay had the best location, being located next to the River Seine and opposite The Louvre. The stations were planned by the Compagnie d’Orléans who wanted to bring electric trains to Paris. The Gare d’Orsay was finished just in time for the 1900 World Fair. Other remaining structures that were built for that World Fair are the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais and Pont Alexandre III (Wikipedia Article). At the time of opening, July 14, 1900, the new railway station was regarded as a true masterpiece of industrial architecture.

However, the platforms soon became too short for the long trains that were used on the main lines. As early as 1939, Gare d’Orsay ceased to be a railway station. In the following decades the building was used for urban services, such as a parking lot, a theater, a movie set, a mailing center, and a reception place for prisoners of war (during the Second World War), and even a shooting stand.

By 1961, the station was completely abandoned. It was then that President Pompidou, who was also responsible for creating the Centre Georges Pompidou, saved it from demolition. His successor, President d’Estaing, was the one who made the decision to use the building as a museum for modern art. The Musée d’Orsay was officially opened in 1986.


At the time of opening, the museum housed about 2,300 paintings, 1,500 sculptures, and 1,000 other art objects. Many of these first works of art came from other museums like the Musée du Luxembourg (Wikipedia Article). The collection has expanded enormously since then, mostly thanks to donations, acquisitions, and gifts, and now contains the largest number of modern masterpieces in the world.

The Paintings Collection is the most extensive collection in the museum. The Musée d’Orsay mainly focuses on French art and its collection contains, for example, 86 paintings by Eugène Carrière, 56 paintings by Paul Cézanne; 24 paintings by Vincent van Gogh, 34 paintings by Edouard Manet; 43 paintings by Edgar Degas, and 86 paintings by Claude Monet. Additionally, there are also a few paintings by Edvard Munch, Piet Mondrian, and James Whistler.

The Sculpture Collection is home to magnificent sculptures by famous artists, such as Auguste Rodin, Camille Claudel, Jules Cavelier, and Paul Gauguin. Other collections display Architecture, Decorative Arts and Photography.

Visiting Musée d’Orsay

The Musée d’Orsay is beautifully located on the banks of the River Seine and makes for a nice place to visit in Paris. In addition to one of the world’s finest collections of modern art, the building also houses a bookstore and a museum store, a restaurant and two cafés.

The museum is open from 9.30AM until 6PM every day of the week, except on Mondays. On Thursday it is open late, until 9.45PM. There are only two closing days in the whole year: May 1 and December 25. Opening times of the restaurant and cafés vary, so it is best to check those beforehand if you want to grab a bite to eat or a drink while visiting.

Tickets grant access to the permanent exhibitions and to temporary exhibitions and cost €11 ($13) for adults; €9 ($9.78) for non-EU residents between 18 and 25, for everyone after 4.30PM every day except Thursdays and for everyone from 6PM on Thursdays. Access is free to EU residents between 18 and 25 years old, people younger than 18, disabled visitors, and on every first Monday of the month.

How to Get There

The Musée d’Orsay can be reached by subway on train M12 to Solférino, by RER on line C to Musée d’Orsay and by buses 24, 63; 68, 69; 73, 83; 84, and 94.

Similar and Nearby Landmarks

Other major art museums in Paris are The Louvre, the Petit Palais and the Centre Pompidou. Other landmarks in the city include the Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame de Paris, the Sacré Coeur and the Eiffel Tower.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Dec 21, 2014

Pictures of Musée d'Orsay

Musée d'Orsay - Musée d'Orsay
Musée d'Orsay - Photo by Dimitry B.

Musée d'Orsay - Musée d'Orsay
Musée d'Orsay - Musée d'Orsay. Photo by Terretta

Musée D'Orsay from the boat - Musée d'Orsay
Musée D'Orsay from the boat - Photo by Aoife Cahill

Musee d'Orsay-43 - Musée d'Orsay
Musee d'Orsay-43 - Musée d'Orsay. Photo by Graeme Churchard


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