The Musée d'Orsay is one of the world’s most visited and respected art museums, housed in a former railway station in the heart of Paris. It is home to the largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist work in the world and focuses on French art produced between 1848 and 1915. Since its opening in 1986 the museum has recorded 63,744,677 visitors through its doors (up until 2010), and is currently under the directorship of Guy Cogeval.
History and foundation
The Musée d'Orsay is housed in what was once a railway station, the Gare d'Orsay, built in 1900 for the Exposition Universelle world fair in Paris. The station, which also contained a hotel, was the central terminus for the south-western French railroad network until 1939, when its short platforms meant it could now only accommodate shorter suburban trains.
During the 20th century the building saw several uses such as a mailing center during the Second World War, a film set for Orson Wells, and as a temporary home for the Renaud-Barrault Theatre Company and various auctioneers. In 1977 it was decided to convert the building into a museum. It was classified a historical monument in 1978 and a civil commission was created to oversee the construction and organisation of the museum.
The conversion work ran from 1980 to 1986, overseen by the Italian architect Gae Aulenti, and on December 9 1986 it opened its doors to the public for the first time. The collection was formed from three different sources: work was contributed by the Louvre museum, the Musee du Jeu de Paume and the National Museum of Modern Art.
Departments and collections
The Musée d'Orsay is divided into six different collections, each overseen by a team of curators and specialists. These collections are:
The paintings collection is the world-famous home of work by many celebrated artists such as Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, Vincent van Gogh and James Mcneill Whistler.
The sculpture collection consists of roughly 2,200 pieces, including work by Auguste Rodin, Paul Gauguin, Francois Rude, David D’Angers, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux and Camille Claudel.
This collection contains a wide variety of work such as stained glass, bronzes, wood carvings, tapestries, furniture, glassware and ceramics by artists such as Louis Comfort Tiffany, the Gueret Brothers and Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
The department currently has a collection of over 45,000 photographs including work from Alfred Steiglitz, Man Ray, Ferdinand Knopff, Jean Laurent, Henri Le Secq and Roger Fenton.
This collection houses more than 10,000 drawings by celebrated artists such as Georges Seurat, Edgar Degas and Gustave Courbet.
This collection is home to architectural drawing, plans, surveys and models from around the world which highlight the links between art and the buildings which surround us.
The Musée d'Orsay is home to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces. It includes significant work by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet.
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