Olfactory art is on the cutting edge of the multi-sensorial art experience. More galleries and museums are working with olfactory creatives to enhance the art experience by expanding and building upon the visitor’s overall sensory experience. Olfactory art has been a growing trend in the past few years in Europe and Asia; now the US is starting to embrace the advent of the multi-sensory movement evidenced by an Olfactory Art show at NYC’s Museum of Art and Design, as well as the institution of a new “Award for Experimental Use of Scent” – the Sadakichi – at LA’s Institute of Art and Olfaction.
Denver Art Museum (DAM) is out in front of this trend with their ongoing collaborative efforts with perfumer and olfactory artist, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. This collaboration resulted in a project, Chroma, that was a finalist for the aforementioned Sadakichi Award, and continues with the upcoming ‘scent experience’ created for the In Bloom: Painting Flowers in the Age of Impressionism exhibit that opened on July 19, 2015.
“To have the opportunity to create an immersive scent experience within the painting show itself is thrilling for me”, says Dawn Spencer Hurwitz (DSH). “It’s very innovative for an established visual art venue like DAM to incorporate olfactory art directly into a painting show to enhance the experience of the visual art. When visitors walk through the scent experience they will be transported through time and space to a moment in Monet’s flower garden at Giverny”.
When museum-goers enter the scent experience space they will be met with a large scale view of the artist Monet in his beloved flower garden and a subtle sense of greenery and moist earth; as if walking into a “real” garden.
Before leaving the scent experience visitors are invited to take a scratch and sniff card of “Giverny In Bloom” as a memento as well as to bring the multi-sensory aspect of the olfactory art with them to enhance their interaction with the remainder of the exhibit.
“I wanted to give the sense of ‘Impressionism’ within the design style of the scent experience,” says DSH, “to match the qualities of the painterly style with the sense of the aromatic experience. I wished to impart a kind of airy, light-filled, plein air feeling, that of the multitude of scents one encounters in a garden, rather than giving an ultra photo-realistic quality to each element of the composition. This is how I worked to make the flower garden come alive”.