"Those who have experienced Paris have advantage over those who have not. We are the ones who have glimpsed a little bit of heaven, down here on earth." - Deirdre Kelly

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Le Musee d'Orsay: Exploring beneath the surface, a preview

View of the Musee d'Orsay, from the Jardins de Tuileries

"We are all subjects of impressions,
and some of us seek to convey the impressions to others."
- Camille Pissaro

The Musee d'Orsay is housed in the former Gare d'Orsay, an Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. After World War II, the train station could no longer keep up with transportation evolution/innovation and soon fell into disrepair. The station was set to be demolished when the French government stepped in (1977) and decided to convert the station to a museum...

The Musee first opened it's doors in 1986 and draws it's collections from the Louvre, the Musee du Jeu de Paume, and the Centre Georges Pompidou. Of course, the Musee is best known for its extensive collection of impressionist (the largest in the world) and post-impressionist masterpieces: Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cezanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gaugin and VanGogh. But it also houses magnificant collections of paintings from every genre, photography, furniture and sculpture.
This stunning sculpture resides in the main floor gallery.
I call it: "A Sistah holding up the world." ;-)

14 Year Old Dancer - Edgar Degas
I'm always surprised at how few people know that Degas,
the patron 'saint' of ballerinas, was also an accomplished sculptor.

My mother has always had a special love for this museum. And visiting it is always a regular visit when we return. In 2009, I had the supreme and humbling honor of photographing my beloved mother in one of her favorite places in the world:

My mother's expression is so serene, so beautiful.
Several times she's told me that, besides being with her family, Paris is the place she most feels at home.
And when she's in Paris that peacefulness is a visible tangible thing.

Like Galignani's, we always visit the Musee d'Orsay when we're in Paris. But here's the thing, I've always looked at/experiened this place through my mother's eyes, through a child's eyes. Moreover, I never really looked beyond the surface - the highlights (like Degas) and then I hit the gift shop. During my last trip I spent a little more time. Did you know that the musee houses it's extraordinary collection of Pastels in a dedicated nearly completely dark room (salon) because they are so old and fragile that even dim light will hurt them? Alas, even during my last trip I could not explore as I wished, I had my fantabulous three with me. 

For my next visit, mom and I are going to visit the museum once during the day (just the two of us) and once at night. I hear it's especially beautiful then, and it's also the time when there are the fewest tourists. Can't wait to return to the 'Pastel Room' (how the heck am I going to photograph in a dark room where flash is not allowed?!) 

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!

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