Strike hits opening of revamped Orsay museum

20th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Strike action at Paris' Orsay Museum on Thursday delayed the unveiling of its new impressionist gallery, which was set to reopen to the public following a two-year, multi-million-euro revamp, the museum said.

Home to the world's largest impressionist collection, the museum of 19th-century art was braced for a rush of visitors keen to discover masterworks by Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir or Edgar Degas in their new setting.

Instead it remained closed after dozens of staff stayed away in protest at planned job cuts next year, with unions scheduled to meet on Friday morning to decide whether to extend their protest.

Twenty-five years after its creation in a 200-year-old former railway station on the south bank of the River Seine, Orsay has spruced up around half of its exhibition spaces at a cost of 20.1 million euros (27.6 million dollars).

Special attention was paid to the impressionist gallery, which draws three million people per year, and whose paintings were moved temporarily to the ground floor since the museum stayed open throughout the project.

Light was at the heart of the gallery renovation, with filters installed to screen the harsh natural light that shone down through the glass roof, along with new artificial lights that aim to reveal the works' full splendour.

Likewise, the white stone that covered the floor and walls of the impressionist gallery has been replaced with wooden floors and deep grey walls -- creating a more intimate setting, inspired by the salons and bourgeois homes in which the works originally hung.

Four new storeys were also built inside the museum's Amont pavilion, a vast former machine room, creating 2,000 square metres of new hanging space devoted to putting more of its decorative arts collection on show.

Visitors can find out whether the museum is open at

© 2011 AFP

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