Orsay Museum Facts

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

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.

Orsay Museum facts

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.

Orsay museum facts

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.

Orsay Museum facts

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!

Orsay Museum facts

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.

Orsay Museum facts

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.

Orsay Museum facts

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.

Orsay Museum facts

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.

Orsay Museum facts

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.

Orsay Museum facts

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.

Orsay Museum Tickets & Tours

Dedicated Entrance to Orsay Museum

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Tickets to Musee de L'Orangerie and Musee d'Orsay

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Combo: Orsay Museum + Seine River Cruise Tickets

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Entrance Ticket to The Orangerie Museum

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Combo: Louvre Museum + Orsay Museum Tickets

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Guided Tour of Musée d’Orsay with Priority Access

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Combo: Palace of Versailles + Orsay Museum Tickets

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Combo: Eiffel Tower Summit Tour + Orsay Museum Tickets

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Frequently Asked Questions About Orsay Museum Facts

Q. Where is the Orsay Museum?

A. The Orsay Museum is located in Paris on the left bank of the Seine River.

Q. What was the building used for before it became the Orsay Museum?

A. The building originally served as a railway station before it became a museum.

Q. Who built the Orsay Museum?

A. The original building of the Orsay Museum was built by Victor Alexandre Frederic Laloux.

Q. Was the clock at the Orsay Museum a part of the previous railway station?

A. The Great Clock was present in the original railway station and is about 120 years old.

Q. How old is the Orsay Museum building?

A. The Orsay Museum building is about 122 years old and was originally constructed in 1900.

Q. What famous paintings are inside the Orsay Museum?

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.

Q. How long did it take to display the collection at Orsay Museum?

A. It took six months to display the entire collection of artworks at Orsay Museum.

Q. How many paintings are inside the Orsay Museum?

A. There are about 2000 pieces of art and 600 sculptures at the Orsay Museum.

Q. What artworks are inside the Orsay Museum?

A. The artworks inside the Orsay Museum include paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photographs.