The Orsay Museum is located on the left bank of the River Seine in Paris, France. This facility houses an impressive collection of impressionist and other art, most of which dates from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The collection at the Orsay Museum includes works by Manet, Monet, Renoir, and Van Gogh, along with many other well-known painters and sculptors. More than three million people visit the Orsay Museum each year to take in not only its collection of art work, but also its grand architectural style and beautiful waterfront setting.
In 1898, the French government oversaw the construction of the Gare d'Orsay train station on the left bank of the Seine. This station featured an elaborate design that was inspired by the Beaux-Arts style of architecture. The train station was completed in time for the 1900 Paris World Exhibition, and drew rave reviews from visitors. By the start of World War II, the station was no longer large enough to house the more modern trains, and was abandoned as a train station.
From the 1940s through the 1970s the Gare d'Orsay was used as a theater and a movie set before it was finally abandoned. In 1978, the French government contemplated tearing the structure down, but instead decided to transform it into a modern arts museum. Work began on the museum in 1981, and the Orsay Museum opened its doors to the public in 1986.
While the arts collection is a major draw, the Orsay Museum also attracts visitors because of its well-preserved architectural style. In keeping with the Beaux-Arts style, the structure features a grand vaulted hall and an exterior crafted from stone, glass, and metal. It also incorporates a strong Baroque influence, evidenced by elaborate sculptures and statues built into the building's facade.
Inside, the Orsay Museum houses a collection of 2,300 paintings, 1,500 sculptures, and more than 1,000 other works of art in a variety of mediums. Many of these works were done by well-known artists, and are highly valued for their impressionist style. The Orsay Museum is also home to photography exhibits and those focused on architectural design and decor.
The museum is open six days a week, and is typically closed on Mondays, except during peak season. It is open late on Thursday nights, allowing visitors to enjoy the exhibits and take in the building itself during the twilight hours. Guests can browse art-related books and accessories at two museum stores, or take in a meal at the museum cafe or its formal restaurant.