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New Perfumery Museum in Washington, DC

Published June 14, 2021
Published June 14, 2021
Qatar America Institute for Culture

The QatarAmerica Institute for Culture (QAIC) opened the doors to its latest cultural installation, the Perfumery Museum, during its first "Seasonal Social" open house for 2021. Located within QAIC's headquarters in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, the Perfumery Museum expands on the organization's commitment to art and cultural programming by sharing the story of fragrance's significant impact on society across history and around the globe.

Both an educational museum and interactive exhibit, the Perfumery Museum includes a mix of both historical and contemporary accounts of the world of fragrance. A curated display of vintage perfume bottles from the likes of Guerlain and Lanvin on loan from Qatar-based antiquities collector Reem Abu Issa provides insight into the aesthetic complexity of perfumery branding dating back to the start of the 20th century. Going back further in time, visitors also learn about several traditional objects still used today for fragrance in the Middle East, whether on special occasions or around the home, like the oud-infused incense bukhoor that's burned inside a diffuser called a mabkhara.

In the center of the chamber is an activation that includes a large Fragrance Wheel developed by fragrance expert Michael Edwards and a table with numbered glass apothecary jars, each containing scented strips with mystery fragrances like myrrh or saffron for guests to identify using only their noses and the references around them for clues.

However, the main attraction during the open house was a live demonstration on how to make perfume hosted by mother-and-daughter duo Sherry Meredith and Gretchen Stirling of DIY Scent Studio. Viewers were introduced to the science of making a personalized scent; the demonstration featured a concoction inspired by "Qatar America."

As part of its vision to be more than just a physical space with viewable exhibitions and interactive activities, the Perfumery Museum plans to offer future fragrance programming. Partners such as DIY Scent Studio and the Doha-based Perfume Factory will enable the museum to offer events like DIY perfumery workshops, guest lectures from notable perfumers, and food and fragrance pairings.


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