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NYC museum will explore scent as art form

[ 2010-12-17 12:54]     字号 [] [] []  
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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 this month.

The center will present its first exhibition, "The Art of Scent, 1889-2011," in November next year, 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 Chandler Burr, former fragrance critic of The New York Times, 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 do not 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 1.8-meter-wide path that will follow the curvature of the gallery wall where buttons on a specially designed atomizing machine will release "the work of 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 said.

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.

With the center's launch, the arts and design museum is the only one 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.

Scent artists or perfumers, colloquially known as "The Nose," are fragrance composers or painters. Among the masters featured in the exhibition will be Jean-Claude Ellena, whom Burr called "one of the most important artists alive in this medium."

Other leading perfumers whose work will be shown include Olivier Cresp, creator of "Angel," and Alberto Morillas and Annie Buzantian, whose "Pleasures" made the use of a carbon dioxide extraction that is considered a major technological advance in the art of perfume-making.

A pivotal role of the center also will be to present public programs, including informal discussions with scent artists and perfume industry executives talking "about the tension between olfactory works of art and perfume as product," Burr said.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

NYC museum will explore scent as art form

About the broadcaster:

NYC museum will explore scent as art form

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in Korean.