What is it: The Musee D’Orsay is a Beaux-Arts styled rail terminal located in Paris and was the first electrified station in the world. It’s history includes serving as a rail station, a hotel, a reception point for returning soldiers of WWII and – it’s current form – an art museum.
Why it’s awesome: The Musee D’Orsay is a beautiful, masterful blend of traditional and contemporary design that works extremely well at displaying art and moving people through the space. The building retains it’s original Beaux-Arts character and charm on the exterior and the interior shell reminds visitors of it’s original purpose via the elaborate ceilings, glass wall and large clock. The interior is a series of planar elements that divide the long hall into separate spaces for viewing sculpture and paintings. The new elements are respectful of their older surroundings, coming very close to the original structure but never quite touching it. The exhibits are given plenty of room for visitors to appreciate them from many angles without overcrowding the space. Seating for weary tourists is cleverly built into the sides of walls, and deliberately designed into the main promenade. This seamless approach creates a unified feel for the space and encourages visitors to stop, look and linger.
Not only is the building itself amazing in size, scale, proportion, ornament, simplicity and ingenious use of space, the art itself is some of the best around. Sculptures fill the hall, paintings line the walls, but it never feels over crowded. The Musee D’Orsay gives the Louvre a run for its money.
Written by: Brinn Miracle