Architecture Around the World

Musée d'Orsay
Paris, France
Musée d'Orsay - Official Website

Exterior photos - 2006

Exterior photos - 2012

Interior photos - 2012

Interior photos - 2012: Clock

Interior photos - 2006:  Arts & Crafts style

Interior photos - 2006:  Art Nouveau, Group 1

Interior photos - 2006:  Art Nouveau, Group 2

Interior photos - 2006:  Thonet chairs


On the eve of the 1900 World Fair, the French government ceded the land to the Orleans railroad company, who, disadvantaged by the remote location of the Gare d'Austerlitz, planned to build a more central terminus station on the site of the ruined Palais d'Orsay.

In the centre of Paris on the banks of the Seine, opposite the Tuileries Gardens, the museum was installed in the former Orsay railway station, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. So the building itself could be seen as the first "work of art" in the Musee d'Orsay, which displays collections of art from the period 1848 to 1914.

From 1900 to 1939, the Gare d'Orsay was the head of the southwestern French railroad network.  ... after 1939, the station was to serve only the suburbs, as its platforms had become too short for the modern, longer trains that appeared with the progressive electrification of the railroads.

The Gare d'Orsay then successively served different purposes : it was used as a mailing centre for sending packages to prisoners of war during the Second World War, then those same prisoners were welcomed there on their returning home after the Liberation. It was then used as a set for several films, such as Kafka's The Trial adapted by Orson Welles...

The hotel closed its doors on January 1st, 1973.

The building was classified a Historical Monument in 1978 and a civil commission was created to oversee the construction and organisation of the museum. The President of the Republic, François Mitterrand, inaugurated the new museum on December 1st, 1986, and it opened to the public on December 9th.

At the turn of the 19th century, two large railway stations were built in Paris, the Gare de Lyon and the Gare d'Orsay. The Gare d'Orsay had the most prominent site, along the Seine opposite the Louvre. The railway station was planned by the Compagnie d'Orléans, who wanted to bring electrified trains right into the heart of Paris.

An impressive 12 000 ton metal was used for the construction of the gare d'Orsay, which is well more than the amount of metal used for the Eiffel Tower....

The train station had been completely abandoned since 1961 when it was saved from demolition by the French president Pompidou. In 1978 his successor, president Giscard d'Estaing, decided to use the Gare d'Orsay as a museum for 19th and 20th century art.  Restoration of the Musée d'Orsay, as it is now called, started in 1979 and finally on the 29th of November 1986, the museum was inaugurated by the French president, François Mitterrand.

- A View on Cities (April 2012)
The architect masked entirely the metal structure of the facade with a stone wall and covered the ceiling with stucco to keep in harmony with the architectural style of the Louvre on the opposite bank.
The Gare d'Orsay was built on the site of the Hôtel d'Orsay, a palace built in 1838 and that was unfortunately burnt down during the Paris Commune in 1871, the last revolution of the 19th century.

- Travel France Online (April 2012)

Photos and their arrangement © 2006 Chuck LaChiusa
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