Recently I was invited to an opening of Le Grand Musee du Parfum, located on the ritzy rue Faubourg Saint Honoré, across the street from the Hotel Bristol.
The beautifully restored 19th former hotel particulier, spanning three floors with over 15,000 square feet of exhibition space, was the home of aristocrat Antoine-Marie Roederer in the mid 1800s and in the early to late 1990s. It was also the couture house of designer Christian Lacroix.
The Grand Musee du Parfum is laid out with three sections. The first is divided into four galleries: la galerie des séducteurs (seducers’ gallery), le parfum sacré (sacred perfume), le cabinet de curiosités (the curio cabinet), and l’essor de la parfumerie moderne (the rise of modern perfumery). The history of perfume is documented from the ancient beginnings in Egypt where the first perfume was formulated, kyphi, to current-day perfume manufacturing.
The next gallery was sensory immersion, which also included a fun interactive section, with a state-of-the-art installation. Hanging metal spheres represented different oils and flower scents from which perfume is derived from. For instance, you pick up the one marked ‘lavender’ and you put the sphere up to your ear so you can listen to a history of lavender and how its used in perfume. Afterward it sprays a dash of lavender for you to smell.
The museum houses a 13,000 square foot garden, which will be used to raise awareness for sustainability by developing perfume plants.
In addition to the permanent exhibition rooms,Le Grand Musee du Parfum offers workshops, cultural events, new exhibitions, and performances and will collaborate with luxury and fine crafts companies to produce perfume related products.