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Musée d'Orsay becomes first major Parisian museum to reopen

People visit the Musée d'Orsay on its reopening day on 23 June, 2020.
People visit the Musée d'Orsay on its reopening day on 23 June, 2020. © AFP - Thomas Coex

The Musée d'Orsay has become the first major Parisian museum to reopen. It welcomed back the public after three months of closed doors with a retrospective of the 19th century painter James Tissot.

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The Paris’s Musée d'Orsay finally reopened on Tuesday but for those who reserved, with masks and a reduced number of visitors per day to between 4,000 and 5,000, according to Laurence des Cars, the president of the public establishment.

Also, in order to reduce the number of visitors, only the ground floor and the fifth floor, dedicated to the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, is open.

It's not an easy task for the immense museum which, in 2019, broke its attendance record - 3.7 million visitors - and sometimes welcomes up to 15,000 people a day in the summer.

"It's an extremely difficult course, with several tens of millions of lost revenue. We are asking for exceptional aid from the state,” says des Cars.

Seventy percent of the museum's own resources normally come from ticket sales.

While usually 60% of visitors are foreigners who go first to see the permanent collections, this year des Cars is targeting Paris and its region inhabitants, who will mainly be interested to see the temporary exhibitions.

"We have made a point of not cancelling any of them. These exhibitions, both at Orsay and at the Orangerie, are a driving force for the ‘local’ public. Tissot is an event for these audiences, arousing curiosity," she says.

The exhibition James Tissot (1836-1902), the Modern Ambiguous was one of the expected events of the 2020 cultural spring.

The painter, whose last retrospective dates back to 1985, is not as well-known as Gauguin or Renoir. He represents "another form of modernity" and is a painter "very romantic, very literary," adds des Cars.

The exhibition runs three months late and only for four weeks until 13 September.

(with wires)

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