Paris, France. What does it mean to be a connoisseur of olfaction? A good life skill for anyone in pursuit of refined sensibilities. It's no surprise that there several perfume museums in Paris. Certainly it's an arty twist on interactives about perception. "Making the invisible palpable, presenting this intangible heritage of perfume in the rooms of a museum, is the challenge accepted by Le Grand Musee du Parfum".
The title typography is treated with graduated metallic fingerprints. It spreads and rotates when it's animated. As a background, It makes the body text illegible.
The letter spacing of the body text is continually increasing from left to right, like fragrant molecules drifting into the air, and when animated it sometimes reverses, as if it's being gathered, or inhaled.
Some lines of the body text are wafting out like odorants, but some are not. The tenth line, for example, is tightly justified and really stands out here. The reading experience is a slippery road.
The first gallery, about the role of perfume in famous love affairs, is really fun. Cleopatra is winking here, but from another angle, she is not.
All of the angled side paintings are lenticular and change depending on angle.
Smell is a challenge, for sure. Or is it the smell dispensers that are tricky? There are many different types of dispensers here. Visitors come to the first smells, in the form of bowls in the ancient history section. The first impulse is to put your face in the bowl (unless you're too short), but that didn't seem to produce any scent.
There is no apparent on button. The hand icon suggests getting the smell from the bowl with your hand in some way. But this didn't seem to help.
The history is fascinating, with wonderful artifacts and stories about the use for scent, during the plague for instance.
Here the speaker-like scent dispensers were easier to use, but I found the scents to be just too subtle to really detect.
Silhouette, puppet-like animations
Perfume and fashion exhibitions are a common assignment for Parisian students.
Fragrant Art History.
The laboratory was not in use when I was there, except by staff.
Upstairs visitors enter a more serious laboratory of basic scents used in the art of perfume, emphasizing "imagination, invention, and reflection in the intellectual process of creating a fragrance".
Here the scent dispensers are orbs, which worked well for getting a good strong sniff.
The orbs work for audio as well as smell. One of about 5 languages can be chosen by rotating the orb in it's holder, before removing it.
This was clearly the core experience of the museum, where diligent visitors were spending serious lengths of time. Quietly sniffing and listening. Even going back to repeat some of the scents.
A tribute to famous contemporary "Noses" takes the form of dressing tables
This looks pretty elegant for the "laboratory" area, where the olefactory perception process is explained. The theme of chemical compound shapes is reflected in the light fixture.
A voting station on perception of scents based on gender. There seemed to be more women visitors here than men.
Another, flower-like scent dispenser was pretty effective.
It occurs to me that this display would be comical, seen out of context.
Then there's a smell garden, with 11 smells to guess
Here the smell dispensers were funnel-shaped flower heads, which didn't seem to work. Some were lit up, and some had subtle images inside to indicate the answers.
After the gallery of orbs, I think some visitors expected audio as well.
A view of the real garden beyond the artificial one.
This love seat uses the speaker-like dispenser again.
Wall alcoves that dispense smell had stringed curtains, and colored light to give a visual clue to where the scent is.
Finally we come to another test your senses area, this one with paper strip dispensers, like the ones used in perfume stores, which worked great.
A simple comparison of 3 scents, with identifying pictures to line up
It seems like the tally sheets are often on a window sill.
The museum store carries over the design of the galleries, including the drifting typography.
Here there are even more types of dispensers; ribbon, cups...
And free form glass blown shapes at the scented glove display
This is the final perfume dispenser for purchased bottles