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Musée d’Orsay – the journey from a train station to an inspiring museum

The Musée d’Orsay is a museum,lying on the left bank of the Seine, built between 1898 and 1900. Being originally a train station, nowadays, it becomes a historic destination in the form of a museum. In this article, let’s find out about that journey of this special museum.

1‘D’Orsay Station’

Musée d'Orsay

In the early 19th century, France had two big railway stations built in Paris, including Gare de Lyon and Gare d’Orsay. Gare d’Orsay had an outstanding location, along the romantic river Seine and opposite to the Louvre Museum. It was used for people’s need of transportation in France at that time.


The d’Orléans Company was the organization investing to build this railway station based on the design of Victor Laloux, who was the engineer of Tours station, France at the same time.

2Musée d'Orsay

Musée d'Orsay: The Café Campana

On 14th June, 1909, the station was officially inaugurated with expectations that it would become a masterpiece of industrial architecture in the French history. Nevertheless, it quickly revealed plenty of problems for serving the longer trains using for mainline services.

Musée d'Orsay

Afterwards, the government used it for suburban services and during World War II, a part of it became a mailing centre. It was even showed as a set for several films like Kafka’s The Trial by Orson Welles. Hence, the Gare d’Orsay station fell into oblivion.


Until the year 1978, the president Giscard d’Estaing decided to make Gare d’Orsay become an art museum of the 19th and 20th centuries, consisting of many different art forms such as sculpture, paintings, carvings, architecture, films and other works. Since that time, it was no longer mentioned as d’Orsay train station but the d’Orsay museum.

Musée d'Orsay [5502]

After many times renovated and restored, in December 1986, the Musée d’Orsay was formally opened by then-president Francois Mitterrand.

3Huge number of collections at the Musée d'Orsay

Paris, Musée d'Orsay

On inauguration day, the Musée d’Orsay had about 2300 paintings, 1500 sculptures and 1000 other works of art. Most of them were transferred from other museums such as the Musée du Luxembourg.


The number of collections at the Musée d’Orsay increases day by day with works created from the mid-19th century to 1914s by Degas, Monet Rodin, Manet, Cezanne, Renoir, Van Gogh, ect.

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