After an impressive six-year renovation, and a $36 million investment, the Musee de l'Orangerie has reopened at long last. Monet's series of waterlilies are perhaps the most monumental work of his lifetime: the artist spent 30 years captivated by the light on the waterlily pond at his home in Giverny, and managed to capture this mysterious light, and the changing seasons, in his large Abstract canvases that wrap around the walls of the museum. These eight paintings are enormous: over six feet high and one is over 50 feet long. The artist donated them to France, and they were hung at l'Orangerie in 1927, a year after his death. In the 1960's, the government attempted a renovation of the museum that holds the paintings, which failed miserably, and so for years, the nymphéas (as they are called) sat forgotten and neglected.
No longer. The museum re-opened in mid-May, and presents the paintings as Monet initially intended them to be viewed. Natural light floods through the ceiling; the white walls curve and bend to accommodate the canvases. The architecture is as stunning as the paintings. The water lilies are housed on the ground floor, while the downstairs showcases the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist works, including a corridor of Renoir, Matisse, Derain, and Modigliani.
Tickets are EUR 6.50, and individuals are only allowed in the museum from 12:30-7 pm, as groups tour the museum in the mornings. The museum is closed on Tuesdays. A warning: the lines assembled outside can snake around the building. Reserve your tickets ahead, and you'll skip the wait entirely. Though there are worse things than standing in the sunshine in the Jardin des Tuileries.
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