Museum of Arts and Design

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Scent as Pure Art

Photos by Rich Kallaher, Courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design

Fragrance is having its moment.  You expect to find perfume on display in drug stores, in department stores, in high end boutiques.  You even find it airports at duty free shops.  In a museum?  That’s probably the last place you’d expect to find perfume.  By the way, don’t call it perfume. I’ll explain later. Chandler Burr is the mastermind of the new Department of Olfactory Art at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York City.  His position as curator is one he created, successfully pitched to MAD in 2010.  At that time, Chandler was the one and only scent critic for the New York Times, where he wrote about fragrance the same way as art, dance and book critic would write about the art they cover.  Chandler’s point of view then as now, is that scents are works of art and the people creating them are artists in their own right.