Discover the World of Impressionism at Orsay Museum Paris
Located in Paris, Musée d'Orsay opened to the public on 9 December 1986 to display the diverse artistic creations of the West between 1848 to 1914. Initially, the museum's collection came from three different established Parisian museums: the Louvre Museum, Musée du Jeu de Paume, and the National Museum of Modern Art.
Quick Facts About Orsay Musuem in Paris
- Also Known As: Orsay Museum was formerly known as the Gare d’Orsay when it first opened as a railway station.
- Location: Musée d'Orsay, 1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 75007 Paris, France. Get directions.
- Date of Opening: Orsay Museum opened to the public in 1986.
- Timings: The Orsay Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 AM to 6 PM. Learn more about timings.
- Number of visitors per year: Approximately 3.7 million people visited the Orsay Museum in 2019.
- Collection Size: 6,000 artworks
What is Musée d'Orsay?
Musée d'Orsay, Orsay Museum is a museum of fine and applied arts that mainly features works from France between 1848 and 1914. The museum's collection includes painting, sculpture, photography, and decorative arts and is home to masterpieces by Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin, and Van Gogh, among others.
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.Book Tickets to Orsay Museum
Why Visit the Orsay Museum in Paris?
- Admire the architecture of a 19th-century railway station.
- Explore the collection at Musée d'Orsay and see masterpieces by Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, and more.
- Learn about the birth of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, and the revolutionary techniques developed during the 19th and early 20th centuries that changed the face of art.
- View some masterpieces such as Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night Over the Rhone,' Renoir’s ‘Bal du Moulin de la Galette,’ and Manet's 'Olympia,'
- Explore their vast collection of stone and bronze sculptures that were commissioned by the wealthy in the 19th century.
- Attend the temporary exhibitions hosted at Orsay and gain a keen understanding of the lives and styles of incredible artists.
- Climb to the top and catch sweeping views of Paris.
History of Orsay Museum in Paris
Gare D'Orsay: The Railway Station
Located in the heart of Paris on the left bank of the Seine, Orsay Museum was originally built as a train station and a hotel to bring visitors to the 1900 Paris Exposition.
From the Station to a Museum
Unfortunately, despite modern developments and facilities, the station only functioned for a short period. During World War II, the building became a mailing center and after the war, it was used as a set for several films, such as Kafka's 'The Trial'.
After the station shut the plan was to demolish the building and construct a luxury hotel in its place. However, following public outcry, the station was put on the declared a Historic Monument, and the Directorate of the Museum of France moved a proposal to convert the railway station into a museum.
In July 1986, the museum was ready to receive its exhibits. It took 6 months to install all the artworks and the Orsay Museum officially opened in December 1986.
Orsay Museum Paris Today
Presently, the museum stands out for having one of the world’s largest collections of Impressionist and post-Impressionist artworks represented by van Gogh, Monet, Degas, Manet, and many more, giving visitors a one-of-a-kind experience. Apart from this, it showcases some of the most influential sculptures done by artists such as Bartholdi, Carpeaux, Barye, and Bourdelle. Orsay Museum also houses some of the most unique photographs, graphic art collections, and architecture, making it worth a visit!
Musée d'Orsay Paris Collection
Being the second most visited museum in Paris, there is a lot to see at Musée d'Orsay in a day. The attraction is home to some of the most influential paintings, sculptures, photography, and decorative art collections set in the period between 1848 and 1914. The permanent collection at Orsay Museum has been evenly spread across on four levels, followed by a terrace exhibition space.
Works from 1848-1870s
The galleries on the right side of this floor focus on the evolution of historical painting, the Academic and pre-symbolist schools highlighting works produced by Ingres, Delacroix, Moreau, and Degas. The galleries on the left focus on Naturalism, Realism, and pre-impressionism. You will see works created by Courbet, Corot, Millet, and Manet as well as architecture, sculptural, and decorative objects from the mid-19th century eclecticism movement.
Works from Late 19th century
Here, you will find paintings, pastels, and decorative objects all from the late 19th century. It also holds a massive collection of Art Nouveau decorations, spanning over six rooms. The galleries facing the Seine on this floor is dedicated to Naturalist and Symbolist artwork, along with decorations belonging to public monuments. The work of foreign artists such as Klimt and Munch can also be found on this floor. The galleries located on the southern side of this floor feature works of Maurice Denis, Roussel, and Bonnard.
Works by Neo-Impressionists
Upper Level (2)
This level is a tribute to the works created by Neo-Impressionists, Nabists, and the Pont-Aven painters. You will be able to spot some of the innovative and unconventional techniques shown in their paintings and pastels. Some of the famous works done by Gaugin, Seurat, Signac, and Toulouse-Lautrec are displayed here. This level also features a gallery exclusively for small format paintings.
Works from the Impressionist and Expressionist movements
Top Floor/Upper Level (1)
The upper floor, without a doubt, has some of the most spectacular works. You will find post-Impressionist works by Degas, Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Pissarro, and Caillebotte. If you don't have a lot of time to spend at Orsay, we would recommend starting your tour on this floor. Photography, architecture, and cinema works are also exhibited here.
Works of Rodin
This area contains 19th-century sculpture art forms, with an entire wing incorporating the works of French sculptor Auguste Rodin. From here, you will also be able to enjoy some scenic views of Paris and spot some major attractions such as the Seine, the Louvre Museum, Tuileries Garden all the way to the Sacre Coeur.
What to See at Orsay Musuem?
Visiting a new attraction can be an overwhelming experience. Make sure you make the most of your trip to the Orsay Museum by keeping a lookout for these must-see works of art housed inside.
Starry Night Over the Rhone
Artist: Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most renowned Impressionist painters of all time. Starry Night was completed when he had moved to Arles in Southern France in 1888. Van Gogh had always admired the different colors of night and had written about how eager he was to paint it to his brother and sister. The painting shows the Rhône River which was only a few minutes away from his house that was rented at the time. It reflects the stars shining bright up in the sky among the building lights as a couple walks by this view.
Artist: Paul Gauguin
Paul Gaugin is seen as a post-Impressionist artist, and though he did not become a well-known artist during this lifetime, his artwork came into popularity after his death. His paintings have always been inspired by his surroundings, local stories, and ancient religious transitions. Arearea, painted in 1892, portrays two local women seated next to a red dog amidst different colored planes - green, yellow, and red. Although Arearea received a lot of criticism from the public, it later turned out to become one of Gaugin's finest works of all time. In 1961, it was displayed in the Louvre and later, in 1986, the painting was moved to Musée d'Orsay.
The Luncheon on the Grass
Artist: Édouard Manet
Édouard Manet was a French modernist painter who is seen as a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism. The Luncheon on the Grass was one of his early works and received a mixed response. The painting depicts a nude woman on a picnic along with two fully dressed men. The painting was rejected by the Paris Salon in 1863, and was later displayed at the Salon des Refusés. The style of the painting broke many of the artistic traditions at the time. However, for most critics it was the lack of interaction between the three main subjects in the foreground and the woman bathing in the background that was baffling.
Artist: Vincent van Gogh
Van Gogh painted more than 30-self portraits over 10 years; it was his way of practicing painting people and could not afford models. These self-portraits put a face to the man who, over time, became the archetype of the artist as tortured genius. In this painting, the light blue background contracts Van Gogh’s red fiery hair making the portrait stand out as a whole. The work may have been Van Gough’s last painting of himself shortly before he left Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in southern France.
Artist: Claude Monet
Oscar-Claude Monet, who is credited with launching the movement of impressionist painting, was a practitioner of plein air painting (painting in open air instead of a studio). While poppy fields were the subject of four other paintings by Monet, this particular masterpiece was painted the year before the first of the Impressionist Exhibitions in 1874, in the area around Argenteuil, where Monet lived between 1871 and 1878. The image depicts a woman and child, pressumbaly Monet's wife, Camille, and their son Jean, walking through a field of thick grass. The painting was showcased in 1874 at an independently organized art show, where the term Impressionist was first used by art critic, Louis Leroy.
Artist: Paul Cézanne
The Card Players is a series of five oil paintings created by the Paul Cézanne during his final period in the early 1890s. Each of these versions vary in size, the number of players, and the setting in which the game takes place. They all, however, depict men playing cards. The one on display at the Orsay museum is considered to be the most simple one of the series. He eliminated the spectators that appear in the first two versions and in each of the three versions a sole wine bottle rests in the mid-part of the table, which acts as the focal point.
Views of Paris from Musée d'Orsay
View from the Second Floor
As you make your way to the second floor, you will witness a beautiful panoramic side view of the Seine from behind the massive clock. Experience the best of both worlds with a glimpse of the modern-metallic-industrial structures alongside the mesmerizing river.About the Musée d'Orsay Clock
View from the Roof
The best time to visit the rooftop would be during the summer. This is the perfect spot for you to experience all the highlights of Paris at a glance. Starting from the Seine, to monuments such as the Louvre Museum and the Garnier Opera, the rooftop gives one-of-a-kind experience, making your visit to Orsay Museum worthwhile! If you’re lucky with the weather, you’ll even get to see the Eiffel Tower, the Montmartre Hill, and its Sacred Heart Church in the back.
Plan Your Visit to Orsay Museum in Paris
Frequently Asked Questions About Orsay Museum Paris
A. The Musée d'Orsay, also known as Orsay, is a museum in Paris, France that mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. It is also home to the world's largest collection of impressionist paintings.
A. The Orsay Museum in Paris houses some of the most imporant impressionist works, including Edouard Manet's Lunch on the Grass, Gustave Courbet's The Origin of the World, Vincent Van Gogh's Self-Portrait, and Monet's Poppy Field.
The building that houses Orsay Musuem was originally built as a train station in 1900. The Orsay Museum opened to the public in 1986.
A. The Orsay Museum is located at 1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 75007 Paris, France.
A. The Orsay museum holds mostly French art from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s in the form of paintings, furniture, sculptures, and more. Some popular painters whose work is displayed here include Henri Matisse, Vincent Van Gogh, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, and Piet Mondrian.
The Orsay Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 AM - 6 PM. Last admission is at 5 PM.