The Orsay Museum in Paris is one of the most must-visit art galleries in the city and thanks to its stunning Beaux Arts architecture and unbeatable position on the river Seine, it’s one of the most picturesque sights in all of Paris.
In homage to one of our favourite attractions, we wanted to find out a little more and share with you just what makes the Orsay such a top Paris museum and art gallery.
True or False: the Orsay Museum used to be a busy train station at the turn of the 20th century?
True! Originally Gare d’Orsay it was built in time for the 1900 Exposition Universelle and was a large train terminus for around 40 years. Over the years the station was unsuitable for more modern trains and it was then used as a mailing centre during WWII and was the set of some major films including Kafta’s The Trial.
True or False: exhibits include those between the years 1900-2015?
False, the Orsay was built to bridge the gap between the National Museum of Modern Art and the Louvre and has been curated to showcase art from the years 1848 to 1915 including works by Cézanne, Monet, Renoir and Manet.
True or False: the Orsay clock dates back to the original train station?
True. It’s one of the gallery’s most iconic features and visitors can look out through its face across the whole of Paris for stunning views right up to and past Montmartre. It’s a working clock to this day, as well.
True or False: the square next to the museum displays an allegorical bronze sculpture?
False: next to the Orsay Museum you will see six bronze allegorical sculptures of the six continents; South America, Asia, Europe, Africa, North America and Oceania. Lined up on a stone wall you can read about what they are and who created them originally for the Exposition Universelle in 1878.
True or False: you can see a giant giraffe at the Orsay Museum?
True! One of the more recent additions to the Orsay Museum is a real life taxidermised giraffe, as a part of a group of animals including lions, tigers, elephants and panthers. This is to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution in conjunction with the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle.
True or False: there is 35,000 square metres of glass in total in the Orsay Museum?
True! Because of its huge glass valuted ceiling and windows, there is an astronomic amount of glass. It also makes it one of the lightest and brightest museums in Paris, so on a good day it’s especially worth the visit.
True or False: the gallery was the second fine art museum to host a photography exhibition?
False – it was actually the first museum in France to house a photography exhibition. Now, it’s one of the most impressive photography exhibitions in the world and visitors can see over 45,000 photographs on display from 1839, through the golden age, including those by Maurice Denis and Edgar Degas.
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