Musée d'Orsay is considered to be one of the more popular museums in France's amazing capital – Paris. Located on the bank of the river Seine, this museum is housed in a railway station which was built in the late 19th century (Gare d'Orsay). The museum predominantly houses French art which dates from the 1840s to the 1910s, and this includes works of art in the fields of painting, sculpting, photography and furniture.
The Gare d'Orsay opened its doors in the year 1900, when the Paris World Exposition was occurring. It was then named a grand masterpiece of urban and industrial architecture. It closed down in 1934 because, although it had been the centre of the railroad traffic in the southwest of France, its platforms became too short for modern trains. After that it found various uses, but none that made a lasting impact. In 1978, the French president decided that it should house a contemporary museum, and the Musée d'Orsay finally opened its doors in 1986.
The museum is most popular for housing a very large collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist works of art by renowned artists such as Renoir, Monet, Degas, Van Gogh, etc. In total, the museum contains over 2000 paintings, 1500 sculptures and over 1000 various other works of art. It is therefore one of the largest museums in the world. The collection of paintings was established in 1818 by the Luxembourg Museum under Louis XVIII. Apart from that, the collection was increased gradually through private donations. The Musée d'Orsay started displaying sculptures in 1945, when they were still considered to be too formal and serious. In the 1970s the Museum also started exhibiting photography, and it was unheard of at the time. Today it has a collection of photographs stemming all the way from 1839, through the golden age of photography, to modern days.
The museum features three floors full of artwork engulfed by over 35 thousand square metres of glass vault, and it includes some of the most famous paintings in the world such as the Blue Water Lilies by Claude Monet, the Montmartre by Pierre Auguste Renoir and the Luncheon in the Grass by Edouard Manet. If you are visiting, these are the things which you should definitely not miss. Other than that, one of the highlights of the museum is the Central nave and the impressive Orsay Station Clock, which is said to date back to before the construction of the station itself. There are also 6 bronze sculpture of allegory in front of the museum on a square. They were placed there in 1878 and came from the Exposition Universelle.
There are also many collections currently in the Musée d'Orsay, which had previously been housed in other famous museums like the Luxemburg Museum, the Louvre and the Jeu de Paume Museum.
This grand museum gets over 3 million visitors a year, so it is important to try and visit on the off-season, or during business days, when your chances of not having to glimpse artwork over other people's heads increase.