Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Perfumery is Art: Permanent Center of Olfactory Art at the Museum of Arts & Design NYC

It was about time! New York City will be the pioneer metropolis to host an official permanent installation featuring perfume as an art form. The Center of Olfactory Art will consolidate the idea that perfumery is an art form, much like other arts (fine arts, cinema, design etc) and the exhibition will be hopefully renewing itself for the foreseeable future. Who will curate this new wing of the museum? Someone who is well known among fumeheads, Chandler Burr (click here for a comprehensive interview with him).

"The nose rarely figures in the sensory experience of a museum visitor. That is about to change at one New York City museum. The Center of Olfactory Art dedicated to scent as an art form was launched at the Museum of Arts and Design on Thursday."What we're going to be able to do ... with the center is place scent directly in the mainstream of art history and demonstrate that it is the equal of paintings, sculpture, architecture and all other artistic media," said Chandler Burr, the former fragrance critic of The New York Times whom the museum said it hired as its -- the country's -- first curator of olfactory art. More a curatorial department within the museum than a separate entity, the museum created the new center because "scent is a really interesting part of the world of design," museum director Holly Hotchner told The Associated Press.It fits the institution's DNA as a "sensuous, sensory-orientated museum" where patrons can touch and feel many of the objects. And of course, smell is as much a part of the senses," she added.The center will present its first exhibition, "The Art of Scent, 1889-2011" next November, examining the reformulation and innovation of olfactory works by some of history's best-known perfumers through 10 seminal scents.An audio guide, narrated by Burr, will explain the context in which they were created. Each perfume will be identified only by artist and year to allow visitors to appreciate each as an independent work.And don't expect fancy fragrance bottles, brand perfumes, design graphics and packaging to be part of the exhibit. Visitors to "The Art of Scent" will experience each fragrance along a 6-foot-wide path that will follow the curvature of the gallery wall where buttons on a specially-design atomizing machine will release "the work of art."With the center's launch, the MAD is the only museum to study fragrance as art. A museum in Grasse, France, focuses on the history of perfume and another perfume museum in Madrid "is entirely about bottles," said Burr, who is also the scent editor at GQ magazine and the author of two books on scent.

Burr also clarified something on the above, where it's mentioned that "He will also conduct scent classes." He told us: "Not exactly. I'm not going to teach classes, which is what it sounds like, I'm going to organize talks with perfumers who will lead interactive lectures "in which participants will learn about various raw materials that constitute fragrances, such asUgandan vanilla, Peruvian pink peppercorn, Laotian benzoin, and Rwandan geranium (sic), and will curate a series of lectures and workshops that bring thework of distinguished scent artists to life in MAD's Open Studio andartist-in-residence programs."

Check out the Museum of Arts and Design at

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