Musée de l'Orangerie

The Musée de l'Orangerie is an art museum located in the Tuileries Garden, near the Place de la Concorde in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. The art museum is famous for its displays of impressionism and post impressionism, with the most notable work being from Claude Monet. The building exhibits a classic architectural style, complete with the four columns that line its entrance.

Like other museums in France, Musée de l'Orangerie did not originally start out as a museum. It was constructed in 1852 at the south west side of the Tuileries Garden where it is located, facing the Place de la Concorde. It was being used as a winter greenhouse for orange trees that grew on the Tuileries Garden. Orangeries were a proud possession at the time, with their existence being seen in many royal places. The idea of converting it into a museum came much later when impressionist painter Claude Monet offered to give water lily paintings or Nympheas to Paris. Given the colossal size of the paintings, he wanted them to be put in a special place, ideally with oval walls, and the orangerie in the Jardin des Tuileries was chosen as the perfect site.

The orangerie was at the time not ready to assume the new responsibility that was being bestowed upon it. Architect Camille was commissioned to transform the museum to what Monet had envisioned. The renovations began and were completed by 1927 when the new Musée de l'Orangerie was being opened. Unfortunately, Claude Monet had already passed on, and was not around when the museum was being opened for the very first time. The museum slowly acquired other artistic creations from painters such as Jean Walter, so the collection quickly expanded. The museum could not comfortably handle the new pieces, and so a second level above the oval rooms was created. This new area allowed display of works from other impressionists and painters such as Renoir and Pablo Picasso. The disadvantage with this is that the top floor covered the skylights that illuminated the oval rooms, and the absence of light meant full appreciation of the impressions by Monet could not be had. The decision to re-avail the skylights was made in 1999, and beginning 2000, reconstructions began in the museum, which were completed in 2006. There were some delays when remains of what seemed to be a wall that formed the fortifications of Paris were discovered. After its historical significance was established, the wall was decidedly preserved, and construction continued. It increased the budget allocation for the reconstruction, but did not delay the predicted opening date.

During the reconstruction, the upper level was removed, and this allowed the water lily paintings to get a generous supply of natural light. The oval rooms were covered in an ivory white colour. The brightness helps clear the mind and blank it and this helps one get a better appreciation of the impressionism work displayed as the Nympheas. A new lower level was created which housed the collections that were initially located on the upper floor.

The museum holds works from many different painters, including but not limited to Henri Rousseau, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, and Alfred Sisley among others. While the Musée de l'Orangerie is mainly associated with the works of Claude Monet, there are other museums displaying his work, like the Musee d’Orsay. For the biggest collection of his work though you need to visit the Musee Marmottan Monet where most of them are on display.

With the exception of Tuesday, the Musée de l'Orangerie remains open for all other weekdays. And like most public museums in Paris, entrance is free on the first Sunday of each month.