10 Interesting Orsay Museum Facts That You May Not Know
Orsay Museum is an art museum located in Paris. It is one of the largest and best-known art museums in the world and includes masterpieces by Van Gogh, Cezanne, Monet, Renoir, and more.
Although Orsay Museum is best known for its French and impressionism artworks, there are some facts about the museum that aren't well known. Read on to find some incredibly interesting facts about Orsay Museum.
10 Interesting Orsay Museum Facts
1. It was a Former Railway Station
Before the building was an art museum, an elegant train station stood in its place. The station saw millions of visitors making their way to the beautiful city of Paris. This station was known as Gare d’Orsay and was the world’s first electrified urban rail terminal.
2. The Old Clock Stayed
Although the station was converted into an art museum, the original design of the building was retained. The massive clock of the Orsay Museum also served as the clock of the original railway station that stood in its place.
3. Other Museums Contributed to its Collection
Before the Orsay Museum came into existence, a few larger museums were running out of space for their collections. The National Museum of Modern Art, Jeu de Paume museum, and the Louvre placed a significant amount of artworks at the Orsay Museum from the middle of the 19th century to the 20th century.
4. Get Spectacular Views of Paris From Behind the Great Clock
Some of the best views of Paris can be seen from behind the Orsay Museum clock on the second floor. Catch the beautiful skyline of the city adorning the River Seine. This spot is great to take pictures too!
5. It Contains More Metal Than the Eiffel Tower
The construction of the original railway station took 12,000 tons of metal. The museum is 574 feet long, 246 feet wide, and is one of the largest museums in Europe. To put that in comparison, that is more than the metal used to build the Eiffel Tower, which was 7000 tons of metal.
6. The Museum is Made of 35,000 Square Meters of Glass
The Orsay Museum was designed to make the best use of natural light. This resulted in the use of almost 35,000 square meters of glass - equivalent to the area occupied by five full-length football fields. The extensive use of glass allows natural light to easily enter the building, avoiding the use of too many artificial lights.
7. The Station Was Used as a Mailing Center During World War II
By 1939, the Gare d’Orsay was no longer used as a train station. Instead, at the beginning of the Second World War, the station was converted into a mailing center to send parcels to prisoners.
8. It Took 6 Months to Display the Collection of the Museum
Owing to the massive size of the museum and a collection that included 2000 pieces of art and 600 sculptures, the curators needed enough time to put everything perfectly in place. This took 6 months and the museum finally opened in December 1986.
9. It Has the Largest Collection of Impressionist Paintings
The Orsay Museum is home to some of the best Impressionist collections of art from the 19th century. Its collection includes Vincent Van Gogh’s Self Portrait, Lunch on the Grass by Edouard Manet, the Bal du moulin de la Galette by Renoir, and the Origin of the World by Gustave Courbet, to name a few.
10. Three Architects Designed the Museum Building
The original railway station was built by three architects - Emile Benard, Lucien Magne, and Victor Laloux. The station was built in just 2 years and was inaugurated on the 28th of May, 1900. When the decision was made to convert the station into a museum, French architect Victor Alexandre Frederic Laloux was hired to redesign the building.
Tickets to Musee de L'Orangerie and Musee d'Orsay
Combo: Orsay Museum + Seine River Cruise Tickets
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Combo: Eiffel Tower Summit Tour + Orsay Museum Tickets
Frequently Asked Questions About Orsay Museum Facts
A. The Great Clock was present in the original railway station and is about 120 years old.
A. Some of the Orsay Museum’s most famous paintings are Vincent Van Gogh’s Self Portrait, Lunch on the Grass by Edouard Manet, the Bal du Moulin de la Galette by Renoir, and the Origin of the World by Gustave Courbet.