La Vie Creative

EP 169: Paris History Avec a Hemingway (Musée d'Orsay)

December 06, 2021 Krystal Kenney Episode 169
La Vie Creative
EP 169: Paris History Avec a Hemingway (Musée d'Orsay)
Show Notes

35 years ago this week the Musée d’Orsay opened to the impressionist, loving public for the first time. It’s hard to image a time when the museum wasn’t part of the landscape of central Paris with the lovely clocks standing over the Seine. 

The first stone of the Palais d’Orsay was laid April 4, 1810 but the fall of Napoleon would delay the finish until 1838. The Council d’Etat decided to move in to finally complete the building in 1842. Less than three decades later the beautiful building would be destroyed. On the night of May 23, 1871 the fires of the Commune engulfed the building and for 27 years the burnt out remains of the Palais d’Orsay remained. 

In 1898 it was finally destroyed and while Paris was in the heyday of the Belle Epoque, the upcoming 1900 Universal Exposition was quickly approaching and a central train station was needed. French architect Victor Laloux was selected to create the first electric train station complete with a 370 room hotel. The metal structure was covered in stone and would only take a record  2 years to complete, with men working around the clock. 

Laloux was tasked with creating a building that would fit into its elegant surroundings as well as balance with the Musée du Louvre seen just across the Seine. Running for almost 40 years, with over 200 trains a day it would stop in 1939 and again a team of people would argue over what to do with it.

On October 20, 1977 it was decided to turn the former station into a museum, bridging the Louvre to the Centre Pompidou. Three architects, Colbac, Bardon & Philippon embraced the structure that Laloux designed, keeping his many elements including the stone roses that rise up the walls. The salles and aisle was completely reimagined and now filled with art from 1848-1914 much of which once graced the salles of the Louvre. On October 9, 1986, the doors of the Orsay were opened to the public and today thousands of people come each day to see the art of Van Gogh, the Impressionists and statues of the Second Empire.  The idea of taking a building associated with noise and movement and turning it into one of quiet reflection and beauty is something only the French know how to do. 

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Claudine Hemingway
Bleu, Blonde, Rouge 

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