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Orsay: a short way from the station to the museum

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Orsay: a short way from the station to the museum

Preparations for the famous World Exhibition in Paris in 1900 entailed great changes in the city: the first subway line started working, new roads were laid, the Eiffel Tower, palaces, bridges, and train stations were built. One of these new buildings was the Orsay railway station on the eponymous promenade on the Left Bank, which Parisians immediately fell in love with for the beauty of architecture, which was explainable against the backdrop of many ugly industrial structures that appeared. Today, this building is occupied by the Orsay Museum of Fine Arts, which can rightfully be attributed to the most visited places in Europe.

History of the museum

Century station was short-lived. After several decades, it became clear that without a significant change in the appearance of the building, it is impossible to upgrade it to lengthen trains and powerful new locomotives. There were attempts to make a warehouse and a cinema pavilion out of the building, hold auctions here, and lease them out. The station was dilapidated, the question of its demolition was almost resolved when, in 1977, under the influence of public opinion, the Paris authorities decided to organize a museum site in the station building. Reconstruction began in 1980, and in 1986, François Mitterrand, at the opening ceremony, solemnly announced that the Orsay Museum of Fine Arts had opened in Paris.

Exposition and organization of internal space

Art objects for the Orsay Museum began to be collected in advance, even before its opening. Patrons acquired part, shared the masterpieces from their storerooms at the Luxembourg Palace, the Louvre and Cluny, some of the collections were donated by the heirs to the state for paying taxes - this is provided for by French law. Orsay exhibits mainly relate to the period from 1850 to 1915, so as not to create competition for other exhibition venues in Paris.

The five floors of the Orsay Museum present in strict chronological order painting, sculpture, arts and crafts, graphics, furniture and architecture.

The endless railroad tracks go into the distance the sculptures exhibited in the main hall of the former station, on the side are the painting halls, which include an invaluable collection of works by world-class impressionist artists:

  • Self Portrait (Vincent van Gogh)
  • “Tahitian women on the coast” (Paul Gauguin)
  • "Montorgay Street" (Claude Monet)
  • The Funeral of Ornans (Gustave Courbet)
  • “Breakfast on the Grass” (Eduard Manet)
  • The Circus (Georges Ceurat)
  • "Card Players" (Paul Cezanne) and many others.

The second floor of the Orsay Museum represents naturalism and symbolism: the sculptural works of Rodin, Claudel and Mayol are separated from the rest of the paintings by Van Gogh and Gauguin. The third and fourth tiers were given to the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, there are also art nouveau pieces on display that recreate an example of a typical interior more than a hundred years ago. The fifth floor as a kind of result and the peak of the Orsay exposition - Degas, Sisley, Pizarro, Renoir.

A rare collection of architecture at the Orsay Museum

Few museums undertake to present architecture as a form of art, believing that it is not so spectacular and enticing, and saving space. A pleasant exception is the Orsay Museum, which itself is a vivid example of the successful implantation of a modern building in the existing concept of old Paris.

The main task of the architectural part of the exposition is to acquaint visitors with the diversity and richness of the traditions of different schools in the design, construction and decoration of buildings at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Truly priceless exhibits include:

  • collection of drawings and plans submitted by the Louvre by the masters of Baltran, Garnier, Eiffel, Dyuban
  • models and reconstructions according to archaeological research
  • works of followers of the school of Vienna Secession Otto Wagner
  • the best conceptual designs of the art nouveau style of Emil Galle and Hector Guimard.

The object belongs to museums.

Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Kuban State University, Russia (World Economics); Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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