31.5.12

Orsay Museum



After five years of blogging about Paris, I have not yet made a post about the Musée d’Orsay. I have hesitated, taking into consideration that photos from the inside are not longer allowed. The rules vary from one museum to the other; photos are e.g. allowed at the Louvre…

I can somehow understand this interdiction. It’s quite frustrating when you reach the Mona Lisa at the Louvre and hardly can see it because of a crowd of people taking photos of the painting and their wife or husband standing in front of it. I think more and more that art in museums is to be seen, contemplated… forgetting about the perfect photo for your blog or your personal album. … and now, if you wish to see e.g. the Orsay collection on your computer screen, you can just go to the “Google Art Project” and find 225 artworks by 130 artists or to other sites about this museum.

But to be able to show the architecture of the interor is something different. I thought that I could be allowed to show one or two photos of the stunning interior of the building, which was first built as a railway station, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. From 1900 until 1939 the Orsay Railway Station, which included a hotel, was used as the head of the railway lines leading to the southwest of France and later for some suburb lines. It closed in 1973. There were some plans to replace the building by a modern hotel, but finally – and fortunately – the decision was taken to classify the building and transform it to the museum it today is, opening in 1986.


There are of course until further no problem to take photos of the exteriror.



The station was originally built for the “Compagnie du chemin de fer de Paris à Orléans”, known as “PO”. You can read the different destinations deserved written on the building – Bordeaux, Toulouse, Limoges… 

... and also the “PO” (which I could use for my personal initials). 

The great clocks can be seen as well from the outside as the inside.



So, today, to see the fabulous art collection, covering the period 1848-1914, including some 5.000 paintings (Bashkirtseff, Bazille, Bernard, Böcklin, Bonheur, Caillebotte, Cézanne, Corot, Courbet, Degas, Daumier, Delacroix, Fantin-Latour, Gauguin, Ingres, Jongkind, Klimt, Manet, Millet, Monet, Moreau, Morisot, Pissarro, Redon, Renoir, Rousseau, Seurat, Signac, Sisley, Toulouse-Lautrec, van Gogh, Vuillard…), some 2.000 sculptures (Bugatti, Degas, Rodin…), photos, architectural designs (Baltard, Guimard…), medals, other artwork (Christofle, Gaudi, Guimard, Tiffany… ) the best is to go there (together with some three million other annual visitors), or possibly to look on the Google selection. 

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

We just got back from Paris and the Orsay, and I was so disappointed not to be able to photograph the building. I can understand not photographing the art, since a few hundred years of "accidental" flashes will take its toll. But as you say, there are so many architectural details, big and small, as well as priceless views of people in the sculpture areas. Maybe one day I'll write ahead and ask permission.

martinealison said...

Une publication merveilleuse... Il est juste que très souvent les photos sont interdites pour x raisons que je ne développerai pas... Mais contentons-nous de dire qu'après tout c'est une façon de revenir très souvent visiter ce site incroyable, un écrin qui renferme des joyaux...
Cela le rend presque encore plus mystérieux et remarquable.
Merci cependant pour l'ensemble de vos photos!!!
Gros bisous

Anonymous said...

Since I was a child I´ve been fascinated by Manet´s masterpiece "The Balcony"

It is because it portrays the young Berthe Morisot, one of my idols...

Every time I´ve come to the Orsay I could not see the painting because it was traveling to a museum somewhere.

I envy those who had the privilege of seeing it hanging there...

Beautiful post Peter!

Thank you
Maria

SusuPetal said...

I have some paper photos from the inside of Orsay, taking back in the 90's. It was such an enthralling place.

I also like the initials PO ;)

Dave-CostaRicaDailyPhoto.com said...

I love the re-use of a grand railroad station for a magnificent museum. I agree with you that there is no need to take photos of art. It is available on line or in a good book.

My favorite photo from the Orsay is through the clock face, with the Louvre in the background.

The restaurant at the Orsay is very elegant.

hpy said...

J'ai souvent pensé à toi en passant devant ce qui à l'époque n'était pas encore un musée (hurla le radis écrasé).

Virginia said...

The last visit I made was in July 2009 as you might remember, that was the fateful Metro ride where they had us all get off before the destination, but fortunately my French was so good, I had no problem getting directions and walking the few blocks remaining to the museum! :)

At that time I took as many photos as I wanted. Maybe I should repost some of those now that it's no longer allowed. I'm not sure why, but I agree with your comments about the Mona Lisa etc. The crowds posing in front of the artwork are maddening!

BTW, I have a dear little photo of Eva in front of the elephant at the Orsay. That day, in 2007, an art student sketched her portrait there in the main hall among the statuary. Nice memories.
V

Studio at the Farm said...

My dear PO [ I had to use that ] Your exterior photos are fabulous. What a magnificent old building. I'm so glad it has become a museum, not a hotel.

James said...

Hello Peter. Nice post. I really like the Musée d’Orsay and I've taken photos there but that was some years ago.

Thanks for providing a wealth of information about Paris and other interesting cities. :-)

Anonymous said...

I had no problem taking photos inside when I was there in 2002. The only thing they frowned on was the special exhibit going on but I was able to photograph many things in the permanent collection and the architecture of the rooms too. It is my favorite museum in all of Paris. The Louvre is too big and dark although I got a nice shot of the Mona Lisa.
Cheers,
Stephan

Cergie said...

Rien ne remplacera jamais de voir une oeuvre en réel mais bien entendu le virtuel (notamment blogs) c'est mieux que rien, déjà cela peut donner l'envie de se déplacer et de faire l'effort de faire la queue.
As tu vu l'expo temporaire Degas ? Moi non. Mais j'ai vu celle de Manet, les travaux sont terminés, la grève du personnel aussi.
Quel bel espace que cette gare ! Et tant à voir qu'il faut venir et revenir...

Cezar and Léia said...

Magnificent structure, thanks for the inside overview and all information.
I've never been there, it's a shame, I must visit this museum next time!
hugs
Léia

Jeanie said...

I grin when reading this because I didn't see the signs and since I could take pix inside other galleries (and did inside d'Orsay in 2009), I figured, no problem! I just started shooting! I nailed quite a few photos before they nailed me! (future post -- I'm still catching up!)

I know what you mean about Mona, though. My favorite picture from my Louvre day was all the people taking picture of Mona!

It's a lovely museum, d'Orsay, with a great collection! Glad you posted on it!

Ruth said...

You make excellent points. And the light in the Orsay is fantastic, just perfect for showing off that interior.

. . . or the van Gogh blues ... ahhh.

Vagabonde said...

I just purchased a French book on gares – it has many old photos. The architecture is so grand. I liked to see your initials in such a way – perfect!

JM said...

I love this place! The 5th image is my favourite mosaic. Well done again, Peter.

louisebah said...

Such a beautiful city. Haven't yet made the trip there but in the meantime I visit it through your blog! :)

arabesque said...

hah! imagine the lines queuing as early as... i give up! ^0^
so, much as I would've wanted to take a peak inside, the exteriors for now, are still as interesting as it's inside.