The History Of The Musée d’Orsay In 1 Minute

Clock inside Musée dOrsay
Clock inside Musée d'Orsay | © Molli McConnell
Molli McConnell

Originally a train station and hotel built for the 1900 Universal Exposition, the Musée d’Orsay building is just as beautiful as the works of art it houses. The museum displays artworks from 1848-1914, and its permanent collection spans over four floors and includes paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. Discover more about the history of this museum below.
Like many of Paris’ iconic museums, the Musée d’Orsay has a long history before it ever became a museum. From 1900-1936, all trains headed southwest out of Paris departed from the d’Orsay train station. Eventually, the station became too old fashioned for the newer models of trains. Consequently, the station became reserved for suburban city trains – there is still an active stop on the RER underneath the museum. As Europe descended into World War II, the station became a mailing center for sending packages to prisoners of war. Long after the War, in 1975, the Direction des Musées de France agreed that there must be a new museum to represent the arts from the second half of the 19th century.

Coincidentally, as this decision was reached, the d’Orsay faced the possibility of destruction. Thanks to a renewed interest in 19th century architecture, and a need for a new museum space, the building was repurposed. In 1978, the building was classified as a historical monument and a civil commission was created to oversee the construction of the museum. The building was then renovated in order to correctly house the artworks that were to be displayed there. The beautiful 19th century architecture of the station was left intact. The new Musée d’Orsay was opened to the public by French President François Mitterrand in 1986.

© Shadowgate/Flickr

The Musée d’Orsay houses art from the second half of the 19th century. The collections include pieces by famous artists such as Delacroix, Ingres, Rodin, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, Monet, Manet, Degas, and Renoir. Neoclassicism, romanticism, impressionism, expressionism, art nouveau, historical paintings, and naturalism are some of the types of art that can be found in the museum. Since its opening, the museum has seen nearly 87 million visitors.

With 4 levels, a terrace, a restaurant, and shop it is easy to spend hours at the Musée d’Orsay. The Musée is located on the Left Bank of The Seine, directly across the river from The Louvre museum and The Tuileries gardens.

📅 Open Tuesday-Sunday 9:30AM-6PM, 9:30AM-9:45PM Thursdays. Closed Mondays.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article