site of the Musee D’Orsay is filled
with history. In the 16th Century it was
the gardens of Marguerite de Valois, queen
to Henri IV. Divided up after her death,
it was covered with an upper class neighbourhood.
Meanwhile on the banks of the river Seine
pieces of the famous property were becoming
a stopping place for river traffic.
This demand made is necessary to form
a quay, and in 1615 the Quai d'Orsay was
stated under the auspices of Napoleon
the first. At the end of the 18th century
the Hôtel de Salm (today the Musée
de la Légion d'honneur) was built,
between 1782 and 1788. On the exact spot
of the Museum there was a cavalry barracks
and the Palais d'Orsay. During the Paris
Commune in 1871, the entire neighbourhood
was burnt down. For thirty years the ruins
of the Palais d'Orsay was a “reminder
of the horrors of civil war”.
1900 the French government gave the land
to the Oleans Railway Company planned
to build a more central terminus station
on the site of the ruined Palais d'Orsay.
The project was considered a challenging
one because of the vicinity of the Louvre
and the Palais de la Légion d'honneur.
It would be a horror if the new station
didn’t fit in with its neighbours.
It would soon be one of the most modern
transport facilities in Paris.
After 1939 the station began to feel its
age and slowly slipped into obsolescence.
While it continued to function it was
all downhill; its hotel closed its doors
in 1973 despite its historic position,
and change was soon to follow.
On October 20th 1977 the Direction des
Musées de France made the decision
to make the station into a museum. It
would celebrate the life and times of
the first half of the 19th century. The
President of the Republic, François
Mitterrand, inaugurated the new museum
on December 1st, 1986, and it opened to
the public on December 9th.