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A Weekend to Remember for the American Friends of the Musée d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie

The American Friends of the Musée d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie (AFMO) celebrated art and friendship during their annual Gala Weekend held last month.  

Since 2009, this American charity has been dedicated to raising public awareness and financial support for the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris. AFMO supports the museums’ acquisitions, collection conservation, special exhibitions, educational programs and capital improvements.

This year’s Gala evening began with the champagne flowing at a cocktail reception in the nave of the Orsay museum. During the reception, guests were invited to privately view this season’s exhibitions, “Van Gogh in Auvers-Sur-Oise: The Final Month”, “Louis Jamot: The Poem of the Soul”, and “Peter Doig: Reflections of the Century.”

I tore myself away from the conviviality of the AFMO attendees so that I could experience the exclusive access offered to the museum’s temporary exhibitions. Viewing the exquisite Van Gogh masterpieces without the usual long queues and immense crowds that make it difficult to truly appreciate the art, I felt as though I had entered a parallel universe.

Guests reassembled in the nave as President of the Musée d’Orsay, Christophe Leribault, extended a warm and heartfelt thank you to AFMO members for their support and commitment, commenting that “2023 was an amazing year thanks to AFMO”, and promising that “2024 holds even more inspiring projects.” 

One in particular will be the 150th Anniversary Celebration of the first Impressionist exhibition in Paris, entitled “Paris 1874. Inventing Impressionism”.  The Orsay exhibition will highlight groundbreaking works including those of Cézanne, Degas, Monet, Renoir and Sisley, that helped launch the Impressionist movement.

This year’s sold-out Gala event, held on October 19th – October 23rd, proved as popular as ever, offering AFMO members a slate of wonderful choices for the weekend.   

After an opening cocktail party at the Musée de l’Orangerie, where American Ambassador Denise Campbell Bauer warmly welcomed guests in celebration of French-American friendship, the attendees began their discovery of the weekend’s special events.  

Along with privately curated tours of the Orsay and Orangerie, another special choice (among many), was an exclusive visit to the Mobilier National, portraying French Living Heritage since Louis XIV. 

Other guests chose a private viewing of “Gertrude Stein and Picasso – The Invention of Language” at the Musée du Luxembourg, a major exhibition exploring the friendship between the two artists, while marking the 50th anniversary of Picasso’s death.   

A lavish, white-gloved luncheon at the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs was a delectable treat for all to enjoy. Guests were pleasantly sated, but more treats lay in store. 


AFMO attendee Karen O’Haire stated, “The visit to the archives of Paul Durand-Ruel, one of the first French art dealers to discover and support the Impressionists, was an incredible honour”.  She added that “Paul Louis and Flavie (Durand-Ruel’s grandson and great grand-daughter) provided a glimpse into the intimate relationship between the Impressionists and their art dealer.” 

Members also commented on the “wonderful” visit to Auvers-Sur-Oise, where Van Gogh spent his final days. A moment that will remain with them was their escorted walk to see the tree roots that were the subject of Van Gogh’s last painting.

All members and guests agreed that the weekend provided a heady experience sharing art and friendship. One can share these sentiments, attend these exclusive events, and contribute to the future of two great museums by visiting the organization’s website and becoming a member. All AFMO memberships include complimentary skip-the-line admission to both the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie. Each level comes with added benefits. 

For more information and to join, visit www.aforsay.org

Lead photo credit : © Shutterstock

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