Musée d’Orsay announces major expansion

Musée d’Orsay/Sophie Crépy

The Musée d’Orsay has announced the launch of a major expansion project, called ‘Orsay Wide Open’. This involves expanding the museum’s exhibition space, and creating new centres for education and research.

The museum has also received a lead gift of €20 million from an anonymous donor through the American Friends of Musée d’Orsay.

Orsay Wide Open includes creating a new wing by converting the 13,000 square feet of space currently used for administrative offices into new galleries.

The new wing will display the Musée d’Orsay’s Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collection, and is scheduled to complete by 2026.

In addition, the museum is creating an Education Center and an International Research and Resource Center, both set to open by 2024.

Laurence des Cars, president of Musée d’Orsay, said Orsay Wide Open will “offer visitors a comfortable experience in spacious galleries and with educational resources that enrich their understanding of our collection and the history of art and culture”.

“We look forward to the new possibilities the expansion will bring to the museum and to welcoming and sparking a deeper connection with our visitors,” added des Cars.

To enhance the attraction’s educational offering for children, the 4th floor of the Musée d’Orsay will house the 7,000-square-foot Education Center.

Musée d’Orsay’s new wing set to open by 2026

“It will expose young visitors to the joys of contemplating, understanding and creating art, based on the museum’s collection par excellence from the mid-19th through the early 20th centuries, a period that remains essential to understanding our world today,” said des Cars.

The new International Research and Resource Center will be built close to the museum’s collection and will integrate its existing archives and library.

Once the Orsay Wide Open project is completed, the Musée d’Orsay’s entire landmark building, a 19th-century train station, will be used to showcase more of its collection.

Enhancing the educational offering for children

Elizabeth Kehler, board chair of American Friends of Musée d’Orsay, said the expansion “will have a positive impact on Orsay’s 3.6 million visitors annually and indeed the city of Paris”.

“Americans have long had passion for French art and culture, and we are thrilled when this passion turns into patronage such as this transformative gift.”

Elsewhere, the V&A Museum of Childhood is closing for a £13 million transformation to become a world-class centre of creativity for children.