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History of the Musée d'Orsay


Before becoming a museum, the Musée d'Orsay first served as a train station (the original Palace was built in 1810 before being set on fire in 1871 during the Paris Commune). The station was built on the ashes of the original Palais d'Orsay.

This train station’s objective was to welcome visitors for the 1900 Universal Exhibition. It was the great French architect of the period, Victor Laloux, and two colleagues who were given the job of designing the station, which was to be the terminus of the Compagnie du Chemin de fer d'Orléans. Victor Laloux decided to hide the existing exterior metallic structures of the station by building an elegant stone front to protect the beauty of the Seventh District, the Louvre museum and the Tuileries Gardens.


During the Second World War, Orsay station became a dispatch centre for the sending of parcels to prisoners. Later, during the Liberation, it became a reception centre for prisoners. It was only in 1977 that President of the Republic, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, made the decision to build a museum on the site. Although the official decision to build the Musée d'Orsay was made in 1977, it took nine years to construct, and was finally opened by President François Mitterrand in 1986.


Opening hours:

Every day: 9:30am - 6pm (closed on Mondays, May 1 and December 25).

On Thursdays, the museum stays open until 9:45pm.


Photo maps for orsay museum 2