Travel Guide: Musee D’Orsay

by Kabita Das

September 20th, 2017

Your average Paris tourist has a checklist of the top places visit, and this usually includes the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Notre Dame Cathedral. However, the roots of Paris’ art history extend beyond just these locations. Many more museums, examples of architecture, and monuments have greatly contributed to Paris’ cultural significance. But what are they?

One of such places is the Musee D’Orsay, located across the river from the Louvre. It houses works of art by world renowned artists such as Van Gogh, Gauguin, Kandinsky. Though it has an impressive collection of reputable artwork, the museum receives less than half the visitors that the Louvre receives.

However, the experience is no less valuable. Upon entering through the main doors, you are confronted with subliminal architecture with a roof that rises 105 feet tall. The building once served as a train station before being refurbished into a museum. Now, where Parisians once walked to their trains, visitors now walk to periods of art.

When I visited I was lucky to fall upon the temporary gallery, “Au-dela des Etoiles”, or in English, Beyond the Stars. After a short line, visitors entered a closed off, dark section of the museum only slightly illuminated by the display lights for the paintings.

The star pieces of the temporary show were by Eugene Jansson and Georgia O’Keefe. Jansson’s large painting, Hornsgatan at Night, occupied its own wall. The minimal lighting highlighted the textured brushwork, and the bold coloring. Jansson was particularly fond of bold blue colors, and in this painting, it intensified the depth that the street creates. Georgia O’Keefe’s Black Cross with Stars and Blue similarly also uses a bold, and intense blue, with a deep mountainous landscape. O’Keefe and Jansson’s particular use of blue was enlivened by the context in which the Musee D’Orsay presented them.

This temporary exhibit demonstrates a lively and ever changing experience of artwork from the past. The Musee D’Orsay does not showcase art, but creates a dynamic and meaningful experience. This context extends beyond the walls of the museum. The historical significance of the artwork that the museum contains and protects is surrounded by the young, modern art world. Go a few roads down, and you stumble upon the Ecole des Beaux Arts where aspiring artists learn to paint and sculpt.

The Musee d’Orsay is an important part of Paris’ history and modern livelihood. If you are in Paris, when you’ve walked through the Louvre, don’t forget to cross the Seine and see the Musee D’Orsay for yourself.



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