New York's Museum of Art and Design to open dedicated fragrance department curated by Chandler Burr

by Grant Osborne, 09th December, 2010

New York's Museum of Arts and Design announced today that it will launch the Center of Olfactory Art, marking the first time an art museum will dedicate a department to the art of scent. The Center will support exhibition and program development and provide opportunities for audiences to engage directly with prominent artists in the field. The Center will be led by former New York Times scent critic Chandler Burr, who joins the Museum's staff as its-and the nation's-first Curator of Olfactory Art. Mr. Burr, whose appointment is effective immediately, is currently organizing the Museum's fall 2011 exhibition The Art of Scent, 1889-2011.

"Olfactory art is a field that has been overlooked historically. Its position today among art historians, museum curators, and even the general public is essentially equivalent to that of photography thirty years ago-virtually unrecognized as an art form in its own right," said Holly Hotchner, the Museum's Nanette L. Laitman Director. "MAD's mission is to examine contemporary creativity across all media-both traditional and non-traditional-and to deconstruct the hierarchical boundaries that have existed between artistic genres. The Center of Olfactory Art will be the first resource of its kind, focused on broadening

audience experience and understanding of the art of scent."

The Center's exhibition programming will focus on showcasing the work of major scent artists, such as Jean-Claude Ellena, Ernest Beaux, and Jacques Cavallier, and will explore key trends in olfactory art, including how synthetic molecules have revolutionized the

art form and the aesthetic, moral, and ecological issues faced over time in the reformulation of olfactory works.

The Center will serve as a public forum for lectures and workshops on issues related to olfactory art and the role of scent in daily life. In the Open Studios at MAD, visitors will have the opportunity to meet scent artists, observe the creation of new fragrances, and discuss aspects of scent as an artistic medium and cultural phenomenon.

The Center of Olfactory Art will also launch partnerships with design schools and other academic institutions that include the study of scent, culture, and design.

"I am honored to be joining MAD's interdisciplinary curatorial team and to be leading the museum's new Center of Olfactory Art," said Chandler Burr. "Olfactory art speaks to the sense of smell just as visual art speaks to the sense of sight, and visitors will experience works at the Museum by smelling them. The Center will present a range of interactive

programs that will explore the groundbreaking innovations of scent artists today and the

artistry and craftsmanship inherent in the creation of olfactory art."

As MAD's first Curator of Olfactory Art, Burr will work with the Museum's senior curatorial staff to develop exhibitions and programs that illuminate scent as an art form. The first exhibition planned, The Art of Scent, 1889-2011, will allow visitors to experience ten

seminal works by some of the greatest scent artists of the late-19th, 20th and early-21st


Burr will curate a series of lectures open to the public in the MAD Theater that will bring together scent artists with major creative figures in the scent industry. He will also lead interactive lectures "in which participants will learn about various raw materials that constitute fragrances, such as Ugandan vanilla, Peruvian pink peppercorn vanilla, Peruvian pink peppercorn, Laotian benzoin, and Rwandan geranium, and will curate a series of lectures and workshops that bring the work of distinguished scent artists to life in MAD's Open Studio and artist-in-residence programs.

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    • Katie Puckrik | 10th December 2010 06:20

      This is an exciting development! What a visionary (olfactionary?) move from MAD, and smart of them to bring in Burr as the ringmaster. Can't wait to visit...

    • Grant (article author) | 10th December 2010 11:24

      Yes it's pretty darn near, ain't it? Here's to 2011 being the year of the perfume!

    • Grant (article author) | 10th December 2010 23:01

      darn near? I meant darn neat!!

    • Lessa | 12th December 2010 20:29

      I did a double-take. Wow, exciting is right! :coolold:

    • cformosa4 | 13th December 2010 22:35

      amazing! The next time I am in New York this will be on my list of things to see! :)

    • Quarry | 13th December 2010 22:42

      I've updated my New York fragrance map to reflect the museum's location even though it's not like I'm going there any time soon. Mapping fragrance-related locations is just one more way to fritter away time.

    • msmith139 | 15th December 2010 14:10

      What a great event..I cannot wait to visit . This is truly an exciting event! Nicely written article Grant!

    • Francop | 19th December 2010 09:14

      Absolutely spot on for all basenoters...thanks very much Grant !

      Please remind us of dates of the exhibition nearer the time so that we can consider a jump across the pond next fall 2011; I believe that it is one of the best times to visit New York...all those fall colours...:smiley:

    • rtamara41 | 20th December 2010 13:13

      This is so exciting! So wonderful to include another sense in the realm of museum culture. YAY! Can't wait to go see it.

    • rtamara41 | 15th August 2011 11:50

      this is VERY cool. I am impressed!