Continuing on the same theme from the last post, the other must-see Paris museum for those mad for Monet is the Musée de l'Orangerie.

As its name suggests, the Musée de l'Orangerie is housed in a former orangery, built in 1852 to house the orange trees of the Tuileries Gardens. Used by the Third Republic as a depository for materials or a place of accommodation for soldiers, in 1921 it became, like the Jeu de Paume, its neighbor on the other side of the Jardin des Tuileries, an annex of the museum of Luxembourg, the predecessor of the National Museum of Modern Art. In 1918, Claude Monet chose to donate his great Nymphéas panels to France. He worked on these 6-foot-tall and over 50-foot-long panels for nearly eight years. The museum opened to the public on May 17, 1927, six months after Monet's death.

How fortunate for me that the week before I visited Paris in May, 2006, this museum finally reopened after a long 6-year, $36 million renovation. The most important change was the demolition of the entire second floor so that the Nymphéas could be seen in the natural light that Monet envisioned in the two specially-designed oval rooms.

Le Bassin aux Nymphéas, Soleil Couchant

Le Bassin aux Nymphéas, Reflets Vert

Le Bassin aux Nymphéas sans Saules, Matin
Le Bassin aux Nymphéas avec Saules, Le Matin Clair
The paintings are just incredible to see. These photos show just four of the eight panels Monet painted. The two separate oval-shaped rooms hold four panels each. Take a few moments, sit down on the benches in the middle of each room and just admire the incredible beauty of these paintings!

But attention art lovers!

There is so much more to see than just Monet's Nymphéas panels.

During the recent renovation the lower level was also opened up to emit more natural light. It is here that the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume Collection is now on display; prior to the renovation, these paintings occupied the now-demolished second level.

Along the masterpiece works to see:

Le DĂ©jeuner sur l'Herbe by Paul CĂ©zanne
Yvonne et Christine LeRolle Jouant le Piano by Pierre Auguste Renoir

Bouquet de Tulipes by Pierre Auguste Renoir

Argenteuil by Claude Monet
La Femme avec un Tamborine by Picasso
Femme au Ruban de Velours by Modigliani

Before this trip to Paris, I was really only familiar with the French Impressionists and Vincent van Gogh, having seen their works during my many trip to the Art Institute of Chicago. The trip to Paris opened my eyes and knowledge to so many other painters and their works that I was unaware of until then.

A visit to a museum can introduce you to artists that you were unfamiliar with, and you then begin to admire their work when you see their paintings in other museums. At the MusĂ©e de l'Orangerie, I "discovered" Amadeo Modigliani, Chaim Soutine and AndrĂ© Derain. I believe this was the beginning of my expanded appreciation of the myriad genres of art.  I now enjoy the Dutch Masters and Flemish Primitives as much as I do the French Impressionists.

  • MusĂ©e de l'Orangerie is closed on Tuesdays, May 1 and December 25.
  • Open Tuesday through Sunday from 09:00 - 18:00.
  • You should use your Paris Museum Pass at this museum.
  • The current entrance fee is €7.50.
  • Free entrance 1st Sunday of each month.
  • Photography is allowed (no flash).

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