If buildings could talk, Le Musée D’Orsay, which overlooks the River Seine just across from Le Jardin des Tuileries, would have a great deal to say about its life and times.
Le Musée D’Orsay was originally built as a railway station and served as a terminus for the train lines of South-Western France. Launched (like La Tour Eiffel) for L’Exposition Universelle in 1900, La Gare D’Orsay was an example of the contemporary Beaux Arts style of architecture. The interior included a lavish ballroom and a hotel. Four magnificent bronze sculptures, also produced for L’Exposition Universelle and each representing a continent of the world, stand in its forecourt.
By 1939, the station’s platforms had become too short to accommodate the new, longer trains and for the next 28 years it was used variously as a mail centre, a film set, a theatre and an auction house.
In 1973, the last remaining part of the complex, the hotel, closed and in 1977, the French Government decided to convert the building to a museum.
On December, 1, 1986 Le Musée D’Orsay was opened by François Mitterand.
Le Musee D’Orsay is probably best known for its extensive collection of Impressionist and Post Impressionist masterpieces which includes works by Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley Gauguin and Van Gogh. Le Musee D’Orsay is also home to a fantastic collection of sculpture, photography, furniture and French paintings from 1848 to 1915.
As you browse Le Musee D’Orsay’s great collections, don’t overlook the architectural beauty of the building itself.