The Musee d'Orsay is a museum located between Quai Anatole France and Rue de Lille, on the left bank of the Seine opposite the Louvre and facing towards the river. The building was originally a very grand railway station built in 1900, named the Gare d'Orsay. It is now home to many sculptures and impressionist paintings, and has developed into one of Paris's most visited and popular museums.
The Gare d'Orsay railway station was inaugurated on the 14th of July 1900, and was considered a masterpiece of industrial architecture. But as the trains became longer, the platforms were found to be too short to accommodate them, so after less than 40 years, it fell into disuse, apart from being used on a temporary basis as, amongst other things, a car park, and as a reception area for prisoners of war.
The hall measures 140 meters long, 40 meters wide and 32 meters high. The whole building is 175 meters long and 75 meters wide. A total of 12,000 tons of metal was used in its construction, which is more than the amount used to build the Eiffel Tower.
The museum contains approximately 2300 paintings, 1500 sculptures and over a thousand other items. It covers the period from the mid 19th century, to the mid 20th century, and contains works of art from Cezanne, Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, and many others. If your time is limited, the third floor, which houses a superb collection of Impressionist paintings, is well worth a visit.
The building was saved from demolition in 1961 by president Pompidou, and in 1978 the then president, Giscard d'Estaing decided to convert the Gare d'Orsay to a museum for 19th and 20th century art, with the intension of including not only paintings, but other different forms of art, such as sculptures, engravings, photos and film. Restoration of the Musee d'Orsay, as it is now called, started in 1979 and was eventually inaugurated by president Mitterrand in 1986 on the 29th November.