Musee d’Orsay

Much of what I previously posted ended up being moments while I was walking around the city. Cold or not, I wanted to use the downtime I had (mostly in darkness 🙂 ) to see a little more of Paris. I did manage to do a little sightseeing in the daytime too, though. I initially thought it would be possible to check out the Louvre, but I ended up working longer on Sunday than expected and figured I’d need a full day to see it. So I went for something a little smaller, but equally as nice, the Musee d’Orsay. It was originally built as a railroad station, but it now houses a great collection of late 19th and early 20th century paintings, sculpture and decorative art. I was impressed. First of all, it uses the space it occupies in an interesting way. Once you go through the absurd security and buy your ticket, you begin in a large hall:


They’ve lined this part with large sculptures from various periods. Off the hall are some smaller galleries to check out. The rest of the museum is laid out chronologically, but it’s hardly linear. You should start by heading up to the fifth floor and working your way through the proto-impressionists and then on to the impressionists themselves, which is what the museum is best known for. It was a good cross-section of artists from that time period and contains a decent number of master works from these artists. In this section, there are also places that provide nice views of Paris as well.
You then travel towards a nice hall (the museum got a big makeover in the 80s incorporating the station into a modern museum nicely) that has artists like Gauguin and Rousseau:


Now, if you wish to see the Naturalists and Symbolist art that came a little after the Impressionists, you go back down to the second floor. However, since the majority of the building is the main hall, there are many sub-floors to explore as well. Once you’re on the second floor, it provides a nice place to sit and soak in the atmosphere amongst the sculptures. That includes this cool bear which sits in view of the Great Clock of the station:


The clock is still working.

Also make sure to walk to the end of the main hall to see the inner workings of the Grand Opera (which I STILL haven’t been into yet) and a cool scale model of the area around the opera house.

Overall, it’s a lovely museum. The collection is excellent and it’s laid out in a meandering way which slows you down and allows you to appreciate the location as well as the art. They’ve kept the element of the old railway station intact so you also get to see a slice of French architectural history as well.

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