In November the renovations of the Musée d’Orsay known as the “Nouvel Orsay” were finished, and after two years of being moved around into temporary homes, all of the Degas, Monets and Courbets were placed in their new, spiffed up galleries. Last week I went to check it out and take some photos.
The main area doesn’t look too different, aside from a new small café on the ground level where the sculptures are located. I took a few shots and then noticed a sign that said “No Photos”. Huh? None at all? I turned to my guide, a woman from the American Friends of the Musée d’Orsay, and asked if I really wasn’t allowed to take any photos, at all, even without a flash. Apparently there’s new management, and they don’t want people taking photos. At all. I hesitatingly put my camera back in my bag. Hmph.
One of the only really big differences I could see, aside from the fact that many of the paintings were moved, is that now the walls in the galleries are painted, either a deep dark blue (in the Post-Impressionist Gallery) which made the paintings really pop, a bright red in the halls where the stairwells are located, and a pale gray in the top-floor Impressionist Galleries (which I liked less, probably because the high ceiling still feels so much like…a train station). There are also new benches made of fancy crystal and some bright red plastic chairs, both done by famous designers I’m sure, but are neither comfortable nor adequate for all of the people who would like to sit while contemplating their favorite paintings. Maybe I’m just being cranky because I wanted to take photos.
I had a little reprieve on the top floor, where you can still take photos of the big clock-face windows and the views over Paris.
A hallway near the stairwell, where, since there’s no art, you can photograph away (or at least no one tried to stop me). I do like the red.
Had lunch in the freezing cold café. I hope their heaters were broken and it’s not always a chilly wind tunnel. The quiche I had was very nice (probably because it was hot), although my friends didn’t finish their salads (probably because they were cold). The decor is also rather cold, designed again by some famous person who I’m sure I could easily find in the press releases or on their website, but I just don’t care enough to make the effort.They don’t mind if you take photos here.
The historic Hôtel Orsay restaurant hasn’t been changed, except for the chairs, which are now plastic. The old wicker chairs are now in the café downstairs. I’ve never been a huge fan of the food here, but the view is pretty. No one stopped me from taking photos here.
Spotted this view from the windows across the hall from the restaurant. I know I sound rather grumpy, but the art works are among my favorite in Paris. And there are some fabulous “Patron’s Pass” private tours planned by the American Friends of the Musée d’Orsay. I highly recommend a visit, just don’t get any ideas about taking photos of your favorite Bonnard.