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Musée d'Orsay

Wednesday, 25 July 2001

Today we planned on visiting the Musée d’Orsay, which has the collection of Impressionist paintings formerly found at Le jeu de paume. Brennan and I had a disagreement about how best to get to the museum. For Mr. Métro, it is best to navigate to the nearest station, no matter if it requires 3 transfers and an extra half an hour. “Seeing Paris” in his book definitely includes spending lots of time in the Métro, and connections are just grand. The Métro is his idée fixe, whereas the Eiffel Tower is Ryan’s—that is, when he is not chasing pigeons, of course!

Anyway, we found the end of the line, where I parked everyone while I went to appraise the wait. I kept walking and walking beofre the front of the line came into view, at which point I began to wonder about alternative activities for the day as I hiked back to the end of the line. Along the way, a familiar foursome came past and I tagged along. A museum official had cruised the line and pulled out families with kids whom he was taking to the head of the line. Not only this, but they got in free! I can’t imagine how much wait time they saved, but they were definite keepers today!

The museum is an old train station on the left bank of the Seine, which is wonderful for its present purpose. In fact, when it first opened as a train station there were those who felt that it was much to handsome to be a train station and should be turned into an art gallery. The lower part of the museum is a mix of painting and sculpture, including an impressive one of Ugolino starving with his children and grandchildren, d’après Dante. Given the late start, the kids were getting thirsty and hungry, so we found sandwiches and drinks at the rooftop café. While they were finishing I gave them my mangled interpretation of Western art history, inviting Linda to fix the egregious errors. Then it was time to find the Impressionists. I think the kids have about as much appreciation of painting as I would have at their age, probably more, and they seemed happy with the game of starting up close to a pointillist or impressionist painting, not liking it much, then moving back and seeing the real picture emerge. The collection is rich and varied, although not as many Monets as I remember (?) from le Jeu de paume. I still appreciate music a whole bunch more, but I suppose there’s some satisfaction in seeing and recognizing famous paintings and in guessing who painted what.

The shop had a nice collection of books and cards, including a book on Western art for kids that puts some examples and a helluva lot more authority behind my short overview. Maybe we can get them to take a peak. We also got a catalog of the museum in a nice, small-format book, and some Monet cards and envelopes.

On to the Arc de Triomphe

This page was last modified on Sun, Aug 19, 2001.