The Musée de l’Orangerie is one of the most well-known museums in Paris along with Musée d’Orsay and le Louvre. This building was constructed in 1852 by Firmin Bourgeois to hold the orange trees of the jardin des Tuileries in order to give them enough sun while protecting them from the wind. It later became an accommodation for soldiers, a place where exams where distributed, and a place where industrial expositions and musicals were shown. Finally in 1921, it became an administration of the beaux-arts along with Jeu de Paume and the museum was open to the public in 1927 right after the death of Monet. The museum was designed to show the art of artists who are still living and was intended to be the museum following the Louvre which in contrast shows art from different places in the world in history. This museum was designed to only hold modern art and give attention to current, rising artists.
In 1927 Georges Clémenceau, president of the counsel inaugurated the eastern wing of the building as the museum of Claude Monet honoring his death and putting his waterlilies in this wing in a round room and for years to come became a main place for temporary expositions from all around the world such as Oriental Antiquities and the first part of the decoration of the “Casa Amarilla” of Venezuela along with Italian artists and of course, modern French artists. Artists such as Renoir and Degas to Cézanne and Rembrandt were shown here. This museum quickly became a very diverse and popular place to display art and one of the most highly cultural places in Paris. In 1959 the museum showed the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume collection with portraits and art déco to add a new aspect to the thriving museum.
In 1944, during the battle for the Liberation of Paris, some of the panels of Monet’s Waterlilies were damaged however quickly and successfully restored. This masterpiece known as “les Nymphéas” in French is in a large, white, oval room as intended by Monet in order to make the small details and colours shine making it the highlight of the Musée de l’Orangerie even today. Along with some of the world’s most renown and celebrated impressionist and post-impressionist artists such as Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, Rousseau, Sisley, etc… This charming museum continues to attract people from all corners of the world.
Starting as a very simple and elegant orangery, the building has blossomed into a beautiful museum without too much panache however a very delightful and peaceful history allowing people to indulge in its simple splendor. Although not as magnificent and gaudy as the Louvre, Musée de l’Orangerie is a hidden treasure of Paris that touches the hearts of its visitors while also giving credit to modern artists who were otherwise disliked and excluded from society during their time. This museum brought light to artists that dared to push their artistic limits. The Musée de l’Orangerie is a must-see for all tourists of Paris.