It was a transformation that was praised. Designed and built as a railroad station for the world’s fair in 1900, this attractive building on the banks of the Seine is now the center of paintings, sculpture, furniture and objets d’art that draws crowds all year long. Everyone knows of the d’Orsay. It’s an absolute must. Here was a place where the gap between traditional and modern art could be spanned. I always head for the Impressionists on the upper level. It’s a feast for the eyes as a great architectural design or a place where art comes alive.
Minimum time to allow:
Allow at least a half day as the museum is very large. You may get tired, but there are places to rest, various places to have lunch, and a beautiful bookstore to examine (look at the ceiling – it’s a masterpiece).
The large restaurant on the mezzanine was once part of the hotel that stood there. It is beautiful and expensive. For a less expensive meal, go to the top level, near the great Impressionist collection. The Café offers light lunches and cold drinks. During the summer, the door from the café to the terrace is open and sandwiches and drinks can be purchased there. I suggest you rest on the terrace as it has a magnificent view of the Seine and much of the right bank all the way to Sacre Coeur.
There is also a large lecture hall with space for 347 people. Ask at the information desk for a schedule of events.
There are at least 4,000 works of art here including furniture, sculpture and paintings.
The building itself is a work of art with the best materials, escalators and six elevators, totally air conditioned with 40,000 acoustic resonators.
On the main arrivals level there are exquisite sculptures. In the back at the far end is a cross section of the Garnier Opera that is unique. Below, through thick glass is a beautifully crafted miniature model of part of Paris as seen from above. Also, look for The Dance, originally created for the Garnier Opera and removed because of the scandal it caused. The Gates of Hell by Rodin is not to be missed.
On the top floor are the Impressionist works of people like Van Gogh, Renoir, Degas (including his horses and sculptured ballet dancers) and, of course, Cezanne, who some say began the Impressionist movement.
On the other levels you’ll see works by Eugene Delacroix, Ingres, and Sisley to name only a few.
There are also exhibits on the history of cinematography and photography.
Note: Many of the works shown here were originally in the Louvre and the Jeu de Paume until 1986.
The museum can be crowded and lines for meals can be long. Leave yourself enough time to wander through the exhibits slowly. I might even suggest that you start at the top and work your way down. Do not stand too close to the paintings as you will obstruct the view of others and, under no circumstances should you touch any of the art. Speak softly and don’t blink. You might miss something.
No picture taking with a flash, an incandescent lamp, tripod or stand, except with special permission with fees.
There is something unique about visiting the d’Orsay Museum. First of all it is spacious, bright, and quiet. It is extremely clean, with toilet facilities in the basement near the main entrance. But you must remember that when you are walking along the main lower level you are in the same space where train tracks held trains and people from afar. You have to see a photograph of the interior as it looked as a railway station to understand. Built at the turn of the twentieth century, the train station and hotel were transformed into this beautiful, visitor-friendly museum.
It is not a place for Modern Art but a viewing site for those works too ‘new’ for the Louvre, which is across the river within view of this wonderful building. It is devoted to the artistic production between 1848 and 1914.
I have not gone to Paris without a visit to this unique building and its wonderful collection. Each visit allows me time to see what is contained on the first and second levels, but I invariably end at the top with a sandwich and view of this great city and enough time to wander through the pre-1914 artists that include Toulouse-Lautrec, Valloton, Vuillard, Gaugin, Bonnard, Utrillo, Denis and even Rousseau.
I always come away awed by the greatness of these people and their compatriots. But I greet my friends with a description of the magnificent structure as well as what’s in it.
I never get enough of this one of a kind museum.
1, rue de Bellechasse, Paris 7th
Tél: 01 4049 4814
Métro: #12 Solforino
Bus: 24,63,68,69, 73, 83, 84, 94, to Quay Anatole France
Velib: 7007, 62 rue de Lille; 7008, 10 rue de Villersexel
Parking*: On the rue de Bac and Blvd. St. Germain (usually crowded)
Car parks: Deligny, Louvre, Montalembert
(*)Public transport or walking might be best unless you are on a tour. Parking is difficult because of the location.
2011 hours: Apr.-Oct. 9-6pm Tue-Sun, to 9:45 pm Thu. Nov.-Mar. 10-6pm. Sun. 9-6pm CLOSED Mon.
2011 admission: 10€ adult, 7.50€ reduced, unemployed, ages 18-25 years, FREE ages 5-18 years, and to disabled visitors with their assistant.
7.50€ Sun from 4:15 or 8pm on Thu
2€ Museum pass holders
FREE first Sunday of each month
Last entrance 45 minutes before closing time.
There is wheelchair access and elevators available. Ask a guide or at the information desk. Wheelchairs can be borrowed, free of charge. Inquire at cloakroom. Passport or drivers license is requested as guarantee.
There is a reduction for groups but an appointment must be made well in advance. The group entrance is at 62, rue de Lille.
General information: Tél 4549 1111
Group information: Tél: 4549 4949
Free concerts are organized at 12:30pm and 6:30pm at the Salles des Fetes.
Evening concerts at 8:30pm require reservations Tél: 01 4549 4546.
Guided tours are available daily except at 11am Sun. Additional tour is at 7pm Thu.
There are also courses on Tue 6:30- 8 pm (open to members) as well as a lecture series held on Sat from 11-12am.
“A Look at ONE WORK” tour is available daily except Sunday at 12:30 for one hour.
There are Forums for High School Students, on the first Wed. of the month at 3pm. Reserve at: 01 4049 4873
“Open House for Teachers” registration, call 01 4049 4949
Membership entitles bearer to a 5% reduction at the bookshop.