Musée d'Orsay in Paris: website, opening hours, paintings, address

Museums and Galleries
The Orsay Museum (Musée d'Orsay) is a building built at the end of the 19th century, combining features of classicism and industrial style. This is one of the most popular tourist spots in Paris.

Museum d'Orsay on the railway platform

The Seine River divides Paris into unequal parts - the left and right banks. On the left, there are 5-7 and 13-15 municipal districts of Paris, but in addition to their geographical location, they also have a social difference. Bohemia prefers to settle here - artists, sculptors, writers, philosophers, intellectuals. The local population is distinguished by the manner of dressing and behavior. It is not surprising that the main attractions of the capital are located here, including the Orsay Museum (Musée d'Orsay), which has collected a huge collection of sculptures and paintings by European painters of the mid-19th and early 20th centuries.

Such a time period was not chosen in vain, and fills the chronological interval of the Louvre and Pompidou Center meetings.

This is an original and unique freak show, one of the ten most popular in the world. It exhibits works by masters working in the genres of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, Romanism and Naturalism, Neoclassicism and Eclecticism, as well as those who have created works in the genre of “new art” - art nouveau. And the fact that the Musée d'Orsay occupies the building of a former railway station gives it a special charm, attracting about 3 million people a year to send them on an exciting journey, but no longer on the iron sheet, but to revel in the spirit of art history.

Orsay station - modern industrial style

In 1900, the fifth World Exhibition was held in Paris, demonstrating the technological achievements of the participants. The construction of the Eiffel Tower, the Pont Alexandre 3, the first metro line, the Orsay station and Lyons were timed to coincide with its opening.

Orsay train station
Orsay train station

The construction of Orsay was led by the architect Victor Lalu, who managed to find a middle ground between the severity and elegance of the external facade, which hides a skeleton of metal and glass inside.

Geographically, the location was also well chosen, and passengers traveling from the southwest side, upon arrival, found themselves close to the main exhibition platforms.

Construction of Orsay

Construction of Orsay began in 1898 on the site where the Accounts Chamber burned down in 1871, and in order to finish it by the beginning of the exhibition, workers worked around the clock on the site. Paving the way from the Austerlitz station to the location of the current platform, 300 people were simultaneously on the site during the day shift, and about 80 people at night. On the other hand, on July 14, 1900, the grand opening of the new railway pier and the adjacent hotel took place.

Construction of Orsay
Construction of Orsay

V. Lalu tried to give the depot exquisite forms, to make it not only comfortable, but also attractive in appearance. When the artist Eduard Delai saw him at the opening of the World Exhibition, he could not restrain his surprise: "The station is magnificent and looks like a palace of fine arts ...", and this remark from the height of the past years sounds like a prophecy.

Unlike other train stations, Orsay was a roofed building with glass panels covering the roof, allowing natural light to enter. Such a design was possible because the trains on electric traction did not release steam and smoke into the air, and because of their peculiar shape, the people acquired the nickname "salt cans".

The history of Orsay

In addition to the attractive exterior design, the passengers had access to modern novelties for those times: ramps, lifts for passengers and luggage. However, it was not destined to remain an advanced harbor for long, as the length of the trains increased, and the short intervals of the stations became too inconvenient for them.

The history of Orsay
The history of Orsay

Since 1939, the pier has already served only trains of the suburbs, and in 1945 it becomes the starting point for deportations and sending of prisoners of war. In 1958, another significant event for history took place - at the station hotel at a press conference, Charles de Gaulle announced his return to big politics.

Having ceased to function, the building gradually fell into decay, but, as it turned out, in a dilapidated state it began to attract people of art. In 1962, director and screenwriter Orson Welles chose him to shoot a film based on Kafka's novel The Trial. And to make the building even more depressed with a touch of claustrophobia, the narrow corridors were filled with a series of offices. The auction house Drouot-Rive Gauche and the big top theater-company Renault Barro also temporarily find shelter here.

But the empty stone mass begins to raise more and more questions. Occupying considerable space, it has ceased to carry a useful function for the city, and more and more there are proposals for its demolition in order to place the administration of Air France airlines, deposit offices or a large hotel on this site.

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However, having already received permission to demolish the old station, in 1971 the city is waiting for a surprise from the minister responsible for equipping the capital in the form of a ban on new projects. The refusal was explained simply - the plans of the proposed buildings do not fit into the city landscape. The shock from the recent liquidation of the Parisian market Le Halles and a kind of reaction to the construction of the Montparnasse train station also contributed.

Starting in 1973, not only were all proposals to replace Orsay frozen, but he was added to the list of potential historical monuments. The final issue of the reconstruction was resolved in 1978, and the transformation from a railway station to the Orsay Museum in Paris began.

Magic metamorphoses: there was a railway station, there was a museum

After participating in the architectural competition, the winners were Pierre Colbock, Renaud Bardon and Jean-Paul Philippe from ACT Architecture. These three enterprising and talented architects enthusiastically set to work on the reconstruction of the building. But the second part of the competition in 1980 revealed the winner for the interior improvement. It was Gae Aulenti, who came up with the idea of ​​completing the central alley with two towers.

Musée d'Orsay in Paris (photo)
Musée d'Orsay in Paris (photo)

The building has returned to its former splendor, ideally harmonizing with the landscape of the city in a completely new status. Among the innovative ideas embodied are a glass dome, which has received additional functions - sound insulation and openings for air conditioning.

All the work took several years, and already in 1986, President François Mitterrand opened the Orsay Museum at a ceremony.

Organization of museum expositions

Museum funds were compiled gradually and from different sources. It received objects of art from the Small and Luxembourg Palaces, the Louvre storerooms, sculptures from the Jaet de Pop gallery, as well as gifts from private collectors.

Paris Musée d'Orsay
Paris Musée d'Orsay

Having a fairly large area - 57 square meters, the freak show houses collections of more than 400 works on three main levels, dividing them by subject matter and technique. So, on the top floor you can admire the works of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, lined up along the entire building overlooking the Seine: Renour, Gauguin, Monet with a series of paintings "Rouen Cathedral", Toulouse-Lautrec - a big fan of the variety show, Degas, Pissarro and the unique Van Gogh.

The period from 1870 to 1914 was given to the middle level, which reflected the symbolic and public art of the times of the 3rd Empire, the masters of art nouveau and academic painting.

On the ground floor, there are works of 1848-1870, and among them are such names as Gustave Moreau and Ingres, Delacroix and Manet.

It is surprising that such a short time (1848-1914) was covered by collections of art objects so diverse and amazing. The paintings of the Musée d'Orsay coexist with sculptures, photographs, engravings, Dila's impressively original pieces of furniture, ornate woodcarvings of the Gueret family, and opera and film scenery. Particularly attractive are the bronze decorations of Bari and the wooden set, created especially for the Countess Bearn by the master J. Dumpt at the beginning of the 20th century.

The masterpieces of the Orsay Museum are constantly updated, updating the exposition with new acquisitions of works not only by the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, but also by previously underestimated artists of the academic school. To help viewers see the canvases in a favorable light, a new lighting system was specially developed, and the walls themselves were colored.

Those wishing to view the entire exhibition in chronological order should prepare to spend the whole day here. But if you are interested in certain directions, study the plan of the building and the location of its halls, each of which has its own aura that fills it with an atmosphere.

Once you cross the threshold of the musée d'Orsay, you are enchanted by the exceptional decor.

Thus begins the prelude to an adventure through one of the most popular museums in France, with an astounding collection of artifacts from the most productive period in history.

Starting your tour of the vernissage on the ground floor, you have to pass under a vault made of glass panels, striking in its size and evoking an association with a crystal palace. Further, passing through the middle and upper levels, you can admire a fantastic view of the central alley.

Sculptures and paintings on the first floor

Where trains once ran, there is now a sculpture hall, and around in their niches there are paintings of great artists, including Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet - the founder of realism, Delacroix, Basel, Cabanel and other unsurpassed masters.

Sculptures of the Orsay Museum
Sculptures of the Orsay Museum

Particular attention is paid to the work of Jean-Baptiste Carpeau, who was the family sculptor of Napoleon 3. He was awarded this privilege, having become famous for the execution of busts in which he depicted representatives of French high society.

Working on the statues of the emperor's family, Karpo idealizes their images, and his most famous image is considered to be a young prince with a dog. The rapprochement of the master with the ruling family is also evidenced by the fact that he taught the basics of drawing to Angel Napoleon.

Ugolino and his sons
Ugolino and his sons

Among other equally well-known figures of the author is the composition "Ugolino and His Sons". Jean-Baptiste created it under the impression of Dante's "Divine Comedy", and skillfully revived the torments of Ugolino, consumed by the pangs of hunger. Being in a dungeon on the verge of insanity, he gnaws at his own fingers, and will soon begin the most terrible meal of his life - eating his own dead children.

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The sculptures of the Orsay Museum also represent Carpo's other creations. In the bust of the ballerina Eugénie Fiocre, he managed to convey her delicate features and daring disposition. At the exhibition you can also admire the plaster statue of the "Four Parts of the World" (the bronze version is crowned by the fountain of the Luxembourg Gardens) and the composition "Dance".

Four parts of the world
Four parts of the world

These statues brought him real glory. However, the dancing naked girls seemed too frank to some moralists, and they were flooded with ink. Fortunately, the result of vandalism was eliminated in time, and the round dance of the ladies still delights the soul.

Returning to the paintings, it is worth mentioning that after the restoration on the first level, the side rooms began to be called "Luxembourg". It was from the former Luxembourg Museum that some of the collections came to the renovated Orsay Museum.

Also on this tier you will be greeted by Ingres and Delacroix, whose paintings are mainly presented in the Louvre. Further, the canvases of Daumier and Millet, Courbet and Corot challenge the idealized past. Manet's canvas “Olympia” does not just provoke, but creates a deja vu, echoing Titian's “Venus of Urbino” and “Maha Nude” by Goya.

Upper level: impressionism and post-impressionism

The sequence of viewing works of art seems illogical, but after the first tier you have to climb to the top one to keep the chronology of the exhibitions. The procession begins through the small chamber halls from No. 29.

Painting by E. Manet "Breakfast on the Grass"
Painting by E. Manet "Breakfast on the Grass"

Here is presented the once sensational canvas by E. Manet "Breakfast on the Grass". When critics saw him in 1863, they were righteously indignant at the sight of a naked lady right in the foreground, surrounded by men. For moral reasons, the painting was not accepted for the exhibition that year, but today we can freely admire this masterpiece, humbly accepting its beauty.

Other rooms display works by Degas and Sisley, Monet and Renoir, Pizarro and Berthe Morisot, the first artist to dare to join the Impressionist caste.

"Starry Night Over the Rhone"
"Starry Night Over the Rhone"

In room 35, Van Gogh is presented in disturbing rhythms and glowing tones. His paintings seem to hypnotize, and the gallery's special pride is "The Starry Night over the Rhone" along with his self-portrait and the second version of "Portrait of Dr. Gachet", written by the author shortly before his death.

In rooms 34 and 39, the early period of impressionism gives way to the middle and early late, and presents their work by Renoir and Monet with his series of paintings about the cathedrals of Rouen.

Orsay Museum paintings 

Following further, you will come under the influence of paintings with different moods and characters inherent in Manet, Redon, Cezanne, Modrian. The journey through the Signac level is completed by the stunning painting "The Snake Charmer" by Rousseau, the works of Gauguin, the well-known painting by Seurat "The Circus". The highlight of the gallery is a large portrait of Oscar Wilde by Toulouse-Lautrec in the style of light caricature.

Medium Sculptures

Continuing to explore the Museum d'Orsay, go to the middle tier, where you will come across a version of the sculpture "Ugolino", but now by Rodin, who imagined the deposed ruler of Pisa from a different perspective. For some, Rodin's image looks even more frightening and gloomy.

"Fleeting love"
"Fleeting love"

Another of his compositions - "Fleeting Love", and it stands not far from the sculpture "Mature Age", created by his lover and student Camilla Claudel, critics see this as a symbol of a completed relationship. The figures are on the Rodin Terrace, which connects the rooms of Lille and the Seine.

During the tour, take a look at the Kaganovich collection in rooms 49 and 50, while the Lille terrace displays works by Bonnard and Voyart, which show traces of art nouveau and the influence of Japanese painting. At the opposite end of the terrace, statues from the 20th century await you.

On the site of the Seine you will find paintings by less famous, but no less talented artists of the last decade of the 19th century. Among them are “Cain” by Cormon, “Portrait of Marcel Proust” by Blanche, “Dream” by Detailly, and it is impossible not to notice Klimt’s painting “Rose Bushes under the Trees”, which occupies almost the entire room number 60.

As you wander through the many galleries, try to save some energy to view the magnificent collection of fine pieces of furniture and other furnishings in the "new art" genre. This part of the exhibit is a real treat to the tired eyes and is well worth the attention.

Infrastructure of the Orsay Museum

In addition to exhibition halls, the Musée de Orsay has a developed network of additional services: a library store, elevators, dressing rooms, changing rooms on the first level, toilets. Also, everything is provided for the convenience of parents with small children and people with disabilities: ramps, folding stools, lightweight canes for children (other forms are not allowed), wheelchairs.

Orsay Museum inside
Orsay Museum inside

After a long walk through the vast territory of the museum, you will surely want to have a bite to eat and take a break, so that you can “assimilate” the received portion of spiritual food while tasting local dishes. On the upper level, you will feel quite comfortable in the Campana cafe with an open area, from where a magnificent view of Montmartre opens up through the hour drive of the station clock. On Thursday it works 11: 00-21: 00, other days 10: 30-17: 00 (Monday is a day off).

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Opposite the statue of the "Polar Bear" by F. Pompom, there is another cozy place - L'Ours cafe, where it is also nice to sit, take a breath and have a cheap bite to eat. It is open 9:30-16:45, and on Thursdays until 19:45.

From the middle tier, take a look at the restaurant dating back to 1900. Its interior is richly decorated with gilding, frescoes and carved ornaments on the ceiling - all these are historical values. The dishes serving traditional French dishes also look luxurious, while the service is not pretentious, and visitors feel relaxed, but be prepared to pay 25-50 euros for the dish.

Opening hours: Thursday 11: 45-14: 45 and 19: 00-21: 30, other days except Monday 11: 45-17: 30, but at the same time during the period 15: 30-17: 30 it functions as a tea salon. There is no need to reserve tables in advance, but you can insure yourself by calling: +33 (0) 1 45 49 47 03.

Leaving a beautiful museum, don't you want to leave empty-handed? Pop into a gift shop or shop for posters, books, CDs, stationery, postcards, baby products and even art from the wide selection. They work every day in addition to Monday 9: 00-18: 00, and on Thursdays the doors are open until 21:30 (shop until 21:00).

Panorama of the Musée d'Orsay in Paris

For travelers with their own or rented car, there is a parking lot (Parking du carrousel du Louvre) near the ring road near the Louvre. There is also a Bac Montalembert parking lot.

Opening hours of the Orsay Museum

The opening schedule depends on the season.

From the 20th of June to the same date of September, the doors of the gallery are open 9: 00-18: 00 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and from Friday to Sunday.

Thursday 10: 00-21: 45, and Monday remains day off. Please note this exception, as most of the Paris museums are closed on Tuesdays.

But from September 21 to June 19 on Tuesday, Wednesday and from Friday to Sunday, the working day is 10: 00-18: 00.

On Thursday, the same schedule remains: 10: 00-21: 45, and the day off is on Monday.
Closed December 25, May 1 and January 1.

Tickets for the Orsay Museum

You can buy tickets to the Orsay Museum in two ways: online or directly at the ticket office before visiting it.

In the latter case, keep in mind that the sale of coupons ends one hour before the end of the working day of the galleries.

Adult tickets - 12 euros. This is the cost per viewing of permanent collections and temporary exhibitions.

Discount tickets - 9 euros. Non-EU citizens aged 18-25 fall into this category. The rest of the visitors can enter at this price any day after 16:30, and on Thursday after 18:00.

Is free: for persons under 18, for everyone every first Sunday of the new month, people with disabilities and their attendants, as well as teachers of primary and secondary education.

There are 2 entrances inside: on the left side of the building, those who are just going to buy a ticket enter. Those who already have it go to the right entrance. And in order not to get lost among the galleries, it is recommended to take a plan and an audio guide right at the entrance for 5 euros.

Save the used coupons, and within 8 days you can get a discount if you decide to go on an excursion to the Paris Opera without a guide, visit the Moreau or Jean-Jacques Henner museums.

How to get to the Orsay Museum

Address: 1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, Paris 75007

To reach the Musée d'Orsay, you will be guided by the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Located on the left bank, the building is surrounded on one side by the Anatole France embankment and on the other by Rue de Lisle. The Louvre Museum, the Tuileries Gardens and the Latin Quarter are also nearby.

If you don't want to take a taxi (this is the most convenient option), then use public transport. You may want to take a city tram ride along the Seine, the stations of which are located quite often along the river, and one of the stops leads to the former train station.

But most often, tourists and natives choose the Paris Metro as the most reliable, fast and inexpensive way to get around the city. On it you need to get to the Solferino stop or to the National Assembly (Assemblee Nationale).

But the city train RER will take you along line C to the station, which is called Musée d'Orsay.

There are also bus routes: 24, 63, 68, 69, 73, 83, 84, 94.

Contact Information:

Phone: +33 (0) 1 40 49 48 14

Official website: