Musee d’Orsay – Museum in Paris
The Musee d’Orsay a museum in Paris, France is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station which had been constructed for the Chemin de Fer de Paris a Orleans and completed in time for the 1900 Exposition Universelle. It is towards the left bank of the Seine and was built between 1898 and 1900.The Gare d’Orsay had been inaugurated on 14th July 1900 and considered a masterpiece of industrial architecture.
It served as a terminus for the railways of south-western France till 1939. By 1939, it is said that the short platform of the station was unsuitable for the longer trains which came to be used for mainline services and after 1939, it was utilised for suburban services and some of it became a mailing centre at the time of the World War II.
Thereafter it was used as a set for many films like Kafka’s The Trial adjusted by Orson Welles as well as a haven for the Renaud-Barrault Theatre Company. Over a period of time it as utilised as a parking lot and also a reception centre for prisoners of war. It was also used for auctioneers when the Hotel Drouot was being reconstructed.
Largest Collections of Impressionist & Post-Impressionist Masterpieces
The museum tends to hold mainly French art which dates back from 1848 to 1914 comprising of paintings, furniture, sculptures and photography. It has the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world, by painters like Monet, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, Degas, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin and Van Gogh. Several of these works were held at the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume prior to the opening of the museum in 1986.
It is said to be one of the largest art museum in Europe. Permission had been granted to demolish the station in 1970. However, Jacques Duhamel, Minister for Cultural Affairs, decided to build a new hotel instead and the station had been put on the supplementary list of Historic Monuments and eventually listed in 1978. The proposal of turning the station into a museum had come from the Directorate of the Museums of France and the idea was to construct a museum which would link the Louvre and the National Museum of Modern Art at the Georges Pompidou Centre. The said plan had been accepted by Georges Pompidou and a research was commissioned in 1974.
Officially Opened in December 1986
A competition had been organized in 1978 to design the new museum and ACT Architecture, comprising of a team of three young architects Pierre Colboc, Renaud Bardon and Jean-Paul Philippon, had been awarded the contract that involved the creation of 20,000 sq. m of new floor-space on four floors and the construction work was done by Bouygues.
The Italian architect, Gac Aulenti was chosen in 1981, to design the interior inclusive of the internal arrangement, furniture, fittings and decoration of the museum. In July1986, the museum was equipped to receive its exhibits and it took 6 months to install the 2000 or so paintings, 600 sculptures together with the other works.
Most of the work of art had come from other museums like the Musee du Luxemboug and over a period of time, the collection had increased significantly due to the acquisitions and gifts. Officially, the museum opened in December 1986 by the president Francois Mitterrand.