Almost directly behind the legendary Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California is a garage that has been converted into a tiny museum dedicated to fragrance. Its curator, author and perfumer Mandy Aftel, opened the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents just last year.
Bianca Taylor of KQED Arts recently visited the archive and writes:
Aftel tells me that the natural oils in her perfumes are not as pungent and long-lasting as the synthetic oils that you'd find at a makeup counter.
The Aftel Archive of Curious Scents was founded as a way to share her love of natural fragrance with the world…
Aftel says perfume is more than just Chanel. Scented materials have been used in spiritual traditions from Buddhism to Catholicism, and Native American rituals. She has created nearly all of the 300 scents in the museum.
"Perfume has a very tangled history," she explains. "There is no civilization that didn't revere and want scented materials."
The New York Times Style Magazine visited in 2017 and reported:
…[It] is not just the first museum in the U.S. dedicated to perfume, but more beguilingly, the first one dedicated to the experience of fragrance. This tiny museum manages to contain the olfactory history of the world: hundreds of natural essences, raw ingredients and antique tinctures gathered from every corner of the globe, and all available for visitors to smell.
The museum is only open on Saturdays from 10 AM to 6 PM, and tickets are $20. That buys you one hour and "3 letter-press scent strips to dip in essences and take home."
image via Aftelier Perfumes