Because I was with a Skip the Line: Musee d’Orsay Small Group Tour, I was able to skip the long, tedious line outside. Once we were inside the museum, we got a quick peek of the new renovations, and then went on to tour the rest of the museum. The English-speaking guide was also a great resource for me. She knew all about the renovations and changes to the museum and had fantastic suggestions about places to eat and other museums to visit; she even helped me learn a few new French phrases!
The Musée d’Orsay is home to the world’s largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, housing the works of artists like Degas, Monet, Van Gogh and more. Over the past year and a half, part of the Musée d’Orsay was closed due to renovations. It was the first major renovation the museum had ever seen in its 25-year history. The “Nouvel Orsay” was unveiled to the general public on October 20, 2011.
In touring the newly renovated areas with my guide, I was able to see just what they had been up to behind the concealed construction site for all those months. The museum renovations totaled 62,000 square feet of updates. So we had a lot of ground to cover!
For one, the walls looked a lot different. All of the paintings were still there, but it is what was going on behind the paintings which appeared different. The museum walls in the Musée d’Orsay used to be painted a bland vanilla white, which washed out the vibrant colors of the impressionist paintings. Now, the walls are colored, and the paintings pop vibrantly off the wall more than ever before. The paintings seem to have more character, and jump to life with the colorful backdrop.
Another change was to re-structure the layout of the museum. Along with the newly-painted walls, some of the paintings were placed differently. That is because one of the goals of the massive renovation included the re-hanging and re-organizing of the paintings, and structuring the museum in a way that is more pleasing to the visitor.
We also got a sneak peek at the new museum café, Café Campana. The updated café is notable for its unique wire border around the restaurant, shell lamps on the ceiling, and bold blue and gold colors, shades that could have been inspired by a nearby Van Gogh painting.
My visit to the Musée d’Orsay reminded me of why this museum remains my favorite museum in the entire city of Paris. I didn’t think it was possible for me to love it even more than I already do, but thanks to the accompaniment of my guide and the museum’s new renovations, a visit to the Musée d’Orsay is more enjoyable than ever before.
- Anne McCarthy