A dozen travelers gather around Martin Schaffner’s 16th-century painting Christ on the Frontier to take a deep breath. Thanks to handheld scent diffusers, these tourists can smell the smoke and sulfur, evoking the hellfire gates depicted in Renaissance artwork.
This is all part of the ‘Follow Your Nose’ tour at the Ulm Museum in Germany. Combining the reconstructed scents with art pieces depicting scented objects such as flower gardens, perfume balls, and tables full of food, the cultural center hopes to further immerse patrons in its collection. I’m here.
A growing number of museums, hotels and perfume experts are offering scent-based adventures to help travelers connect more deeply with their destinations.
Rachel Hertz, a neuroscientist at Brown University and an expert in the psychological science of smell, says that smell is the only sense that is directly related to the memory and emotional learning centers of the brain.
“This makes the sense of smell very unique in how we experience the world around us,” says Herz. “Our scent experience is emotional and visceral in nature, thanks to this nervous system.”
Scent is a powerful time machine, but the history of the sense of smell has been largely overlooked. Experts are now promoting the preservation and protection of odors as an intangible cultural heritage, exploring how complex odors can tell stories about forgotten places, traditions and natural changing environments. I want people to experience it.
Preserving traditional scents
It’s not easy to recreate the scent of the past. To create the ‘Follow Your Nose’ exhibition in 2022, Museum Ulm is developing new methods, such as artificial intelligence and sensory mining tools, to identify and preserve the smells of European heritage. We have partnered with Odeuropa. Created by perfumers at International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF), the showcase scents are chemically reconstructed authentic scents blended with oils and other ingredients that do not harm the creation. .
“Museums are controlled environments, but they don’t always foster life-like rich experiences,” says Cecilia Bembibre, who leads research on olfactory heritage science at Odeuropa. “This is a lost opportunity.”
Other exhibits harness the power of scent. In 2022, the Louvre Museum in Paris will launch a new series of olfactory tours related to its collection of still life paintings. Madrid’s Prado Museum has debuted an exhibition of scents inspired by Jan Bruegel’s painting The Five Senses.
“Smell can attract an audience that can’t easily engage with a visual medium,” Bembibre says. “[It could appeal] Blind and young audiences looking for a different experience. ”
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Climate change is at risk of losing some scents and their stories, she says. Odeuropa researchers are tackling this challenge through their Encyclopedia of Odor Heritage, due for publication in 2023. They are also working with UNESCO to develop a policy on odor protection. Beyond Europe, Bembibre sees an opportunity to preserve fragrance in underrepresented communities, ensuring that this intangible layer of cultural heritage is preserved for future generations.
Mapping of “Odor Scenery”
A stroll through Amsterdam, Holland, reveals a myriad of smells. There’s the ever-present canal stench, the mushroom-like smell of old books, and even traces of freshly baked waffles. To further explore how scent connects class, gender and stories of the city’s colonial past, the Amsterdam Museum will launch his 2022 ‘City Sniffers: A Smell Tour of Amsterdam’s Ecohistory’. did. Scratch-and-sniff maps with a variety of historical smells, including scented pomanders and scented balls thought to ward off the plague.
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Olfactory associations have long been associated with first impressions and memories of places, but artist and lecturer Kate McLean takes these connections a step further with a practice she calls “smell walking.” increase. McLean leads her walking tours in various cities around the world, translating the scents experienced by participants into hand-painted ‘scent landscape’ maps. In January, I plan to sniff and map streets and places in downtown Philadelphia, including the Washington Square Park Fountain and the Liberty Bell.
“It’s important to be there and say, ‘I’m connected to the landscape I’m moving through,'” says McLean. “I hope that in the future we will all be better able to appreciate the depth and complexity of what we can easily ignore after sniffing once.”
The hospitality industry has used scent as a branding tool for more than a decade, Herz said, with hotel chains like Marriott, Sheraton, and Hilton pumping out signature scents through their HVAC systems.
“We’re so visual, and scent is invisible, so people tend to miss it, even when it’s perfectly noticeable,” she says. It sounds like it, but we experience it all the time.”
Hotels are also dabbling in scent experiences. At Edinburgh’s Balmoral, guests can attend a masterclass in bottled fragrances by the Scottish founder of Scotland’s first perfume company, Kingdom. In Borgo San Her Felice in Tuscany, master perfumer Maria Her Candida Her Gentile leads olfactory workshops focusing on the scents around the vineyards.
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French Riviera bartenders also take cues from winemakers and use scents in innovative ways. At the Hotel Barriere Le Majestic Cannes, bar his manager Emanuele Balestra runs an on-site laboratory, transforming fragrant plants grown in the hotel’s gardens into complex tinctures to enhance the absorption experience. increase. He pours the drink into a special glass with a curved rim, so that the drinker is full of aroma with every sip.
“Typically, shake cocktails don’t have the explosive aroma of wine,” says Balestra. “Perfume amplifies the taste and makes for a very sensory experience.”