A Spiffed Up Orsay Museum

In November the renovations of the Musée d’Orsay, known as the “Nouvel Orsay,” were finished. After two years of being moved around into temporary homes, all of the Degas, Monets and Courbets were placed in their new, spiffed up galleries. Last week I went to check it out and take some photos.

The main area doesn’t look too different, aside from a new small café on the ground level where the sculptures are located. I took a few shots and then noticed a sign that said “No Photos”. Huh? None at all? I turned to my guide, a woman from the American Friends of the Musée d’Orsay, and asked if I really wasn’t allowed to take any photos, at all, even without a flash. Apparently there’s new management, and they don’t want people taking photos. At all.

One of the only really big differences I could see, aside from the fact that many of the paintings were moved, is that now the walls in the galleries are painted, either a deep dark blue (in the Post-Impressionist Gallery) which made the paintings really pop, a bright red in the halls where the stairwells are located, and a pale gray in the top-floor Impressionist Galleries (which I liked less, probably because the high ceiling still feels so much like…a train station). There are also new benches made of fancy crystal and some bright red plastic chairs, both done by famous designers I’m sure, but are neither comfortable nor adequate for all of the people who would like to sit while contemplating their favorite paintings.

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