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France: Musée d'Orsay

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Musée d'Orsay | France | Europe

[Visited: October 2003 and before]

Right on the bank of the river Seine, opposite the gigantic, world-famous Louvre, is the Musée d'Orsay. This spot was once occupied by the Palais d'Orsay, which was burned down during the Commune revolt in 1871. The current building was originally built as a railway station, inaugurated in 1900 as the first railway station with electrical power, for the World Fair of that year. While the station was very advanced at its inauguration, it became too small with the evolution of rail travel. It served other purposes like a mail centre, point of return for prisoners of war, and setting for movies, before it closed down completely in 1973.

Picture of Musée d'Orsay (France): View from clock, Musée d'Orsay, Paris

It was subsequently decided not to demolish the structure, but instead convert it into a museum for 19th century art. It was opened as such in 1986, and has been visited by many millions. 19th century art remains the focal point of the museum, with works of Gauguin, Manet, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Rodin, and others. You can also find sculptures and pictures, some of which are 20th century pieces of art.

Picture of Musée d'Orsay (France): Musée d'Orsay: view from above - Paris

Apart from the collections of the museum, walking in the building is a pleasure in itself. Light, both natural and electrical, is used cleverly to illuminate the building inside, a special light advisor was hired to accomplish this. Three different storeys were built inside, connected by stairways and elevators, to house the works of art. It is only when you arrive at the third storey that you can clearly see where the platforms have been once. A huge clock inside, and one outside, are further reminders that this place once was a bustling railway station.

Picture of Musée d'Orsay (France): Sleeping female nude, sculpture, Musée d'Orsay
Picture of Musée d'Orsay (France): Architecture inside Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Picture of Musée d'Orsay (France): Sculpture and huge clock inside Musée d'Orsay
Picture of Musée d'Orsay (France): Ground floor of Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Picture of Musée d'Orsay (France): Louvre seen through the clock in Musée d'Orsay

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