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Paris's Musée d'Orsay celebrates 25th birthday

Photo RMN/Hervé Lewandowski

Paris’s Musée d’Orsay museum of 19th-century art opened its doors 25 years ago. Bridging the gap between the venerable collection of the Louvre and the modernism of the George Pompidou Centre, the Orsay has the largest collection of impressionist paintings in the world.


Three million people visit the Musée d’Orsay each year – meaning that visitors often have to fight the crowds to see the masterpieces of impressionist art.

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To ease the crowding, and in time for its 25th anniversary, the museum underwent a 20-million-euro renovation this year.

After a year of refurbishment, and an industrial dispute over staffing levels, the former train station reopened in October with new lighting and walls repainted dark grey.

The most popular part of the collection, the impressionists, has been separated from the rest to be displayed on its own in the main hall, to allow for more space.

The museum, conceived of in 1974, was inaugurated by President François Mitterrand in 1986.

It took six months to install about 2,000 paintings, 600 sculptures and other works, many of which had previously had been displayed in the Jeu de Paume museum across the river in the Tuileries gardens.

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