Musée d’Orsay

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by jphil on August 11, 2005

After all I had heard and read about the Musée d’Orsay, I was eager to visit when the museum opened to enjoy it without all the crowds. While enjoying my pain au chocolat, I waited on the line to enter until the doors opened. I had decided to buy a Paris Museum Pass for the day because I planned on stuffing in three museum visits. When I was allowed entry, I found out I needed to go back outside and around the corner to a kiosk to purchase the pass. Once purchased, I was able to gain entry from a different entrance where there was no line.

When entering through any of the doors, you will need to pass by a security guard and metal detector. The ground level consists of a long hallway with rooms off either side of the nave. There is sculpture displayed along the hallway, and the art in each of the rooms is organized by period and medium.

On the ground floor, you will find the Pre-Impressionist works. At a few of the pieces, artists had set up easels to paint their own version. Be sure to pick up a map of the museum - otherwise you may miss some of the rooms that do not have entrances immediately off the main hallway.

From the ground floor, take the escalator in the back of the museum to the fifth floor. Up here, you can view Impressionist and Post-Impressionist pieces. To my delight, works by Seurat, Rousseau, and Monet are housed here. After seeing prints of Van Gogh’s Noon: Rest from Work hanging in so many college dorm rooms back in my university days, I was impressed by the original painting.

The museum is designed to direct you to the second floor next. The art displayed here can be categorized into Académisme, Naturalism, Symbolism, and Art Nouveau. Along the second floor, you will find some Rodin sculptures to whet your appetite for the Musée Rodin.

The building is a converted train station, Gare d’Orsay, which allows for the open design of the museum. The building retains its original clock above the entrance. On the way out of the building, make sure to take a good look at the glass-paneled wall on which the clock hangs. When I visited, there was a temporary installation, Christain Boltanski’s Le Théâtre d’ombre (The Shadow Theatre). This piece consisted of paper figures, blowing in the wind caused by fans, backlit by lights, seen through the glass wall (see photo).

This was my favorite of all the museums, both for its open and light-filled design and for the collections housed here. Don’t try to visit on Mondays, as the museum is closed, but do try to find time for a visit.

Musée d’Orsay’s website:
Musee d'Orsay
62, Rue De Lille
Paris, France, 75343
+33 (1) 4049-4994

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