What to see at the Musée d'Orsay?
Located in the heart of Paris, the Musée d'Orsay is a true icon of French culture and a must-visit for art lovers from around the world.
From 16 € (or £13.87)
From £13.87 (or 16 €)
Nestled in the elegant 7th arrondissement, on the charming banks of the Seine, this unique museum is housed in the spectacular architectural environment of the former Orsay railway station, a historical gem from the late 19th century. The Musée d'Orsay is a sanctuary for fine arts, decorative arts, and graphic arts dating from the second half of the 19th century to the early 20th century. Through its rooms, you are invited on a journey through time, where each work tells a part of the history of art and society of this prolific era.
The history of the Musée d'Orsay
The Musée d'Orsay stands as a living testament to the rich cultural and artistic history of Paris. Inaugurated in 1986 after meticulous transformation, this museum brought the former Orsay railway station, once a symbol of the modernity and technical progress of Belle Époque Paris, back to life. Abandoned in the 1930s, the station had several lives, including serving as a film set, before being reborn as an art museum in 1986. Since then, the Musée d'Orsay has become a cultural epicenter of the French capital, attracting millions of visitors from around the world each year.
The artistic treasures housed in the Musée d'Orsay echo the artistic movements that marked the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Visitors can admire an exceptional collection of artworks including paintings, sculptures, photographs, and decorative art objects signed by legendary artists such as Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and many others.
The Musée d'Orsay is a prestigious showcase for Impressionism, an artistic movement that revolutionized painting. Its Impressionist collection is one of the most impressive in the world, housing masterpieces by masters such as Monet, Degas, Renoir, and Manet. Monet's Water Lilies, Gustave Caillebotte's Floor Scrapers, Degas' Dancers, and Manet's Luncheon on the Grass are some of the iconic works that enchant visitors.
In addition to paintings, the Musée d'Orsay is also renowned for its sublime collection of sculptures. Visitors can admire masterful works such as Rodin's The Thinker, Carpeaux's The Kiss, and Maillol's The Mediterranean. These sculptures offer a fascinating dialogue between form and material, revealing the artistic mastery of this bustling period.
The architecture of the Musée d'Orsay building is a work of art in itself. Designed by architect Victor Laloux, this 19th-century architectural masterpiece captivates with its stone arches, large bay windows, and bronze clocks. The museum's iconic glass clock, located in the main hall, offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the Seine and surrounding monuments, and recalls the building's former railway vocation.
The permanent collections of the Orsay Museum showcase the richness and diversity of art from the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, encompassing decorative arts, graphic arts, and photography.
The museum's decorative arts collection is a journey through the elegance and creativity of this period. It includes a variety of precious objects, such as refined furniture, art objects, jewelry, and textiles. These pieces reveal the finesse of the artistic styles of this era and the mastery of the craftsmen.
The graphic arts collection offers a dive into the creative universe of many artists. It includes drawings, prints, posters, and illustrated books that testify to the evolution of graphic techniques and artistic expression during this dynamic period.
The Orsay Museum's photography collection is a window open to the past. It houses works by iconic photographers such as Nadar, Carjat, and Atget, who immortalized daily life in Paris. The temporary and permanent photography exhibitions offer a fascinating panorama of the photographic avant-gardes of the 20th century, allowing visitors to discover the evolution of this captivating medium.
The Orsay Museum stands out not only for its permanent collections but also for its temporary exhibitions which are windows open to new artistic horizons, and offer visitors the opportunity to discover new works and new artists. These exhibitions are regularly renewed, highlighting European art from the end of the 19th century, the beginning of the 20th century, as well as contemporary art.
Currently, several captivating temporary exhibitions are being offered:
- From September 12, 2023 to January 7, 2024: "Louis Janmot, The Poem of the Soul"
- From October 3, 2023 to February 4, 2024: "Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise"
- From October 17, 2023 to January 21, 2024: "Peter Doig, Reflections of the Century"
- From March 26 to July 14, 2024: "Paris 1874, Inventing impressionism"
- From March 26 to August 11: "1874 Immersive Expedition"
Temporary exhibitions are often an opportunity to discover lesser-known artists or less-studied periods of art history, thus enriching the artistic experience offered by the Orsay Museum.
It is recommended to check the exhibition program on the official Orsay Museum website for the most recent information and details about upcoming exhibitions.
Practical Tips for Preparing Your Visit to the Orsay Museum
A well-prepared visit to the Orsay Museum guarantees a rewarding experience. Here are some essential details to plan your visit.
Opening hours and prices
The Orsay Museum is open every day except Monday, from 9:30 am to 6 pm.
On Thursdays, the museum extends its hours until 9:45 pm.
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From 16 € (or £13.87)
From £13.87 (or 16 €)
Entrance fees vary depending on the exhibitions and temporary collections.
Many services are offered to enhance your visit. Guided tours are organized daily and are led by professional tour guides. An audioguide is also available in several languages for an independent discovery of the collections.
A cloakroom is at your disposal to store your belongings safely.
Access and practical information
For easy access, it is recommended to use public transportation. The museum is served by the Orsay Museum metro station (line 12) and the RER station Musée d'Orsay - Quai de Seine (line C).
Although parking is difficult in the area, it is also possible to get to the museum by bus, bike, or car.
Free maps are available at the entrance to help you navigate the museum.
Finally, don't forget to stop by the museum shop where you will find books, art reproductions, and other souvenirs to commemorate your visit.