Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Written by on January 14, 2014 in Readers Photos

musee d'orsay

The Musée d’Orsay is located on the left bank of the Seine, housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a railway station built between 1898 and 1900.

“The station is superb and looks like a Palais des beaux-arts…” wrote the painter Edouard Detaille in 1900. Eighty-six years later, his prophecy was fulfilled.

The railway station was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. Effectively the building is itself the first “work of art” in the Musée d’Orsay, which displays collections of art from the period 1848 to 1914. It was designed by architect Victor Laloux and building work took two years. Laloux’s creation successfully blended in with the surrounding neighbourhood of fine houses using stone from Charente and Poitou.

orsay clock front

The station was in use until 1973. It had been a busy station from it’s opening until 1939 when the short platforms no longer suited longer trains that were being made. It was also used for filming (notably Orson Welles’ production of The Trial) and as a meeting place. General de Gaulle held the press conference announcing his return to power here.

The station was considered for destruction to make way for a modern hotel complex. Fortunately that decision was halted when the station achieved Historical Monument status. The French Government decided instead to transform the station into a museum.

The architects chosen for the job were ACT group including Jean-Paul Philippon who was also responsible for the conversion of an art deco swimming pool in Roubaix into a stunning art gallery known as La Piscine. The design for the museum incorporated the best of the station’s features – the great hall, the glass awning and the station clock, and was opened in 1986.

The museum houses artworks on three levels devoted to art from 1848-1914, there is also a restaurant, two cafés and a book shop.

Photo of the week (January 13, 2014) by Yann Caradec, Paris. You can see a bigger version of this wonderful photograph of the Musée d’Orsay clock overlooking Paris on our Facebook page.

Website for Musée d’Orsay

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