2022 Museum Tours: Musée d’Orsay In Paris, France

Musée d’Orsay, (French: “Orsay Museum”) national museum of fine and applied arts in Paris that features work mainly from France between 1848 and 1914. Its collection includes painting, sculpture, photography, and decorative arts and boasts such iconic works as Gustave Courbet’s The Artist’s Studio (1854–55), Édouard Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (1863; Luncheon on the Grass), and Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette (1876; Bal du moulin de la Galette).

The Musée d’Orsay is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a railway station and hotel that was designed by Victor Laloux and located on the Left Bank of the Seine River opposite the Tuileries Gardens. At the time of its completion in 1900, the building featured an ornate Beaux Arts façade, while its interior boasted metal construction, passenger elevators, and electric rails.

Because of changes in railway technology, however, the station soon became outdated and was largely vacant by the 1970s. Talks to transform the builing into an art museum began early in the decade and were finalized in 1977 through the initiative of Pres. Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. With government funds, the building was restored and remodeled in the early 1980s by ACT architecture group.

The interior was designed by Gaetana Aulenti, who created a complex layout of galleries that occupied three main levels surrounding the atrium beneath the building’s iconic iron-and-glass barrel vault. On the ground floor, formerly the building’s train platforms, extensive stone structures broke up the cavernous space and created a central nave for the sculpture collection and gallery spaces for painting and decorative arts.

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