New York museum to open a wing dedicated to the art of fragrance

New York's Museum of Arts and Design will soon become the first institution in America to possess a wing entirely dedicated to scent as an art form. The Center of Olfactory Art is set to be unveiled next fall.

Museum director Holly Hotchner told The Associated Press that the Center has been organized as a sensory experience where patrons can touch and smell the objects on display. Chandler Burr, the former fragrance critic for The New York Times, has been appointed as the department's curator. His inaugural exhibit for the Center, The Art of Scent, 1889-2011, will open in November 2011.

Burr has high hopes for the Center: "To place olfactory art within in the mainstream of art history and to show that scent is a legitimate artistic medium, the equal of painting, sculpture, architecture and music," he told The Wall Street Journal. "What I intend to do is strip away the marketing, PR and commercial presentation of what are stupendous works of art - but are not yet understood as such."

Though no museum expressly dedicated to fragrances yet exist in the US, there are several in Europe. France, which has been the epicenter of the perfume industry since the 17th century, boasts Fragonard's Musée du Parfum in Paris. Meanwhile, the oldest fragrance museum is found in Cologne, Germany. The institution pays homage to Eau de Cologne, which made the city famous during the 18th century.

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