Mandy Aftel, founder and nose behind fragrance line Aftelier, opened Aftel Archive of Curious Scents last month—the first US museum devoted entirely to perfume.
Situated in a converted garage outside Aftel’s home in Berkeley, CA, the tiny archive is dedicated to the experience of fragrance. The aptly chosen museum logo is a gold-painted nose and is fastened to the cottage’s quaint entrance. This golden schnoz was taken from the British Museum’s 19th-century mold of Michelangelo’s “David” and is an intimation of the olfactory history of the world awaiting inside.
Purchase of a $20 ticket grants visitors the opportunity to smell more than 300 natural essences derived from fruits, flowers, trees, roots, grasses, and balsams. Other natural and sniffable extracts include the bodily excrements of animals, such as the beaver and Sperm Whale. And while these extracts are not quite as enticing as the aroma of a fresh blossom, they help showcase the rich history of perfumery and enhance curiosity.
The Aftel Archive also features “a perfumer’s ‘organ,’ or workbench, a perfume deconstructed into its component parts and drawers of raw ingredients,” reports the New York Times. Attendees are also encouraged to use more than just their sniffer—raw botanical substances that will eventually become perfume extracts are displayed for a tactile experience as well.
These curious scents are meant to “awaken sensibility, stir the mind, stimulate the imagination, and revive the memory. Their importance to body and soul has been emphasized by every civilization and every religion in every part of the world,” writes Mandy Aftel. This sensory immersion into the mysterious world of aromatics coaxes guests to step outside the realm of time—quite an experience to be had indeed.
Read more about Aftel Archive of Curious Scents in the New York Times.
Photo: Aftelier Perfumes