Philippe Meyer Collection at Musée d’Orsay

Looking for a few minutes of quiet in one of the city’s most popular museums? At Musée d’Orsay, go to the middle level, walk through the newly renovated grand ballroom, and spend time with the Philippe Meyer collection.

Two high-ceilinged rooms provide an intimate viewing experience; if it weren’t for the view of the Seine, you’d think you were in another part of Paris. So take the mental leap – imagine yourself in the exquisitely appointed, perfectly lit apartment of an art collector. All that is missing are a luxurious sofa and coffee table on the polished parquet floor.

The twenty or so works donated to the museum by French scientist and collector Philippe Meyer include a landscape and still life by Cezanne; a Bonnard nude; paintings by Odile RedonSeurrat and VanGogh.

I was once the only person in these rooms, and I’ve never seen more than a handful of others. We all lingered, knowing that the rest of the museum was jam-packed. The Orsay’s overcrowding should ease once renovations are completed this fall. In the meantime, enjoy this oasis of calm.

Musée d’Orsay Undergoes Renovation

The Impressionist wonder, Musée d’Orsay, has closed its top floors as part of a major renovation. The changes will bring improved lighting, increased security, and better visitor flow when Level 5 reopens in March, 2011.

Major museum holdings are still on display in specially redesigned rooms on the ground floor. Manet’s “Déjeuner sur l’Herbe” and “Olympia” remain at the d’Orsay, along with the large realist paintings of Courbet and the early works of Monet and Cézanne; Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works; and paintings by Ingres, Delacroix, Degas.

About 240 works will travel during the renovation. The De Young Museum in San Francisco will show Van Gogh’s “Bedroom at Arles,” Whistler’s Mother, and Manet’s “Fife Player” as part of its exhibit “Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces From the Musée d’Orsay,” May 22 – Sept. 6, 2010.

A second show at the De Young will focus on “Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Beyond: Post-Impressionist Masterpieces From the Musée d’Orsay,” Sept. 25, 2010 – Jan. 18, 2011.

The d’Orsay will continue to hold temporary expos, including an excellent temporary show, Art Nouveau Revival, which looks at the influence of Surrealism in France, psychedelic art in the US, and other art movements on Art Nouveau. Until Feb 4, 2010.