The transformation of the former Orsay railway station into a gallery, renowned for its impressionist and post-impressionist collections, straddled three presidents between the 1960s and 1980s.
It was Georges Pompidou (1969-1974) who saved the station on the banks of the Seine from demolition by giving it heritage status and outlining plans for a museum.
But it was the “determined work and engagement” of his successor Giscard that saw the project through, the culture ministry said in a statement.
The museum was finally opened in December 1986 by President Francois Mitterrand.
In a statement, Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot said Giscard was “a man of culture, passionate about arts and literature of the 19th century” who had carried out an “audacious act of heritage and architecture” by overseeing the project.
The official name will now be “Les Musees D’Orsay et de l’Orangerie Valery Giscard d’Estaing”, since the institution also includes the nearby Orangerie Museum which houses some of the most famous paintings by Claude Monet, such as The Water Lilies.
France is fond of naming its institutions after past presidents: the Centre Pompidou is France’s foremost modern art museum, while the National Library is dedicated to Mitterrand.
The Musee du Quai Branly, featuring indigenous art from around the world, recently added Jacques Chirac to its name.