The Parisians make a gem of an art museum from an old railway station

I was recently fortunate enough to visit the fine city of Paris including the Musee d’Orsay, which is an art museum located in a former railway station. This works out much better than you might expect.

The railway station used was a large old station from the nineteenth century, designed to accomodate the great steam engines of that era. Consequently is has high arch-shaped roofs which let in plenty of light and also the sheer size of the place somehow enhances many of the great sculptures and paintings displayed there.

The Musee d'Orsay has a grandeur of its own which enhances the art

The museum is organised into different eras, as is the way with large colllections of works, and these span everything from classical art through to modern art. On the ground floor there is a central isle of sculpture. There are plenty of places to sit down and contemplate which is very important in a collection of this scope and quality.

The central isle of sculptures

Here a lot of works are on show from Carpeaux, Preaulx, Guillaume and others. Overall it has a very French feel. On either side of the aisle of sculptures are impressive collections of paintings by Manet, Courbet Bazille, Cezanne, Degas, Bonnad, Vuillard and others. The Courbets were particularly fascinating to me as I have seen very little of his work before.

On higher floors there were many works of impressionism, post impressionism and early twentieth century modern movements, though nothing one could really call avante garde.

The symbolist pictures of Moreau and others made a big impression on me as I have not really studied works by this group of artists, or indeed taken a great interest in them. I do now.

Symbolist painting by Gustave Moreau

Another pleasant surprise was the Art Nouveau exhibiton, where delightful furniture and paintings were on display together.

In fact there was a lot of furniture at the Musee d’Orsay, so if you see art in a broader context you will particularly enjoy this museum. It is really also a museum of design.

I was fascinated by how Art Nouveau influenced the popular art, culture and fashion of the 1960s.

Whatever your tastes the Musee d’Oray should delight your senses.

Clock remnant of the railway station origin of the Musee d'Orsay