Musée d'Orsay--page 1 (of three pages)

Gae Aulenti
completed 1987

The old train station, Gare d'Orsay, built in 1900 by the Beaux-arts architect Victor Laloux, was remodelled as a space for 19th century art. Trains once arrived in this space. This remodelling effort has been criticized. An example of the extensive criticism is quoted here:

"Stone-clad and pharonic in inspiration, the overall effect is of a Vegas Valley-of-the Kings, extremely ill at ease in its belle-époque setting. Apologists for Hi-tech--surely the late-20C equivalent of 19C iron tchnology--will be horrified by the clumsy PoMo pastiches of industrial forms. Worst of the gallery space is second-rate and disjointed" (Ayers 134).

The vaulted central space looking toward the entrance

The central nave-like space is 450 long beneath a 103 foot barrel vault of glass and iron. A gently sloping ramp occupies the entire length. Gallery spaces flow off from this central promenade.
In spite of the post-modern style (sometimes called neo-Egyptian) of the remodelled space, we are reminded of the 19th century, both by this clock and the decorated iron work, typical of the great train stations.

The entrance with a ramp connecting the second levels.

Ramps and catwalks connect the various spaces and levels of the exhibit areas.

Looking toward the rear of the barrel-vaulted space


Work Quoted:
Andrew Ayers. The Architecture of Paris. Stuttgart/London: Edition Axel Menges, 2004.

Go to page 2.

See this index for works of sculpture in this museum.

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© 2007 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.