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History of Orsay Museum

The Compagnie d'Orléans wanted to bring electrified trains right into the heart of Paris. Tha’s why in the 19th century 2 Gares was built, one of them, The Gare d'Orsay, had the most prominent site, along the Seine opposite the Louvre.

Since 1961 the train station had been completely abandoned when it was saved from demolition by the French president Pompidou. In 1978 his successor, President Giscard d'Estaing, decided to use the Gare

It would not only contain paintings, but it would also cover different art forms, including sculptures, engravings, photos, film, architecture and urbanism.

Restoration of the musée d'Orsay, as it is now called, started in 1979 and finally on the 29th of November 1986, the museum was inaugurated by the French president, François Mitterrand.

When it opened the museum contained some 2300 paintings, 1500 sculptures and 1000 other objects. Most of these works of art came from other museums such as the Musée du Luxembourg. Over time the collection has expanded significantly mainly due to acquisitions and gifts. It covers a period from the mid 19th century up to 1914 and contains works from Degas, Rodin, Monet, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, van Gogh and others.


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