The Perfumery Museum is a journey for the senses and an introduction to the history, science, and stories behind the craft of perfumery through time and the world.
The Qatar America Institute for Culture (QAIC) is pleased to present its expanded Perfumery Museum. Building upon the original unique installation, open since 2021, QAIC’s Perfumery Museum is a destination in the heart of Washington, D.C., taking visitors on a historical journey through the senses. Bridging Qatari, Arab, and global cultures together, the museum introduces visitors to the history and importance of scent to the Middle East, from the origins of the distillation process to the exchange of raw materials and oils along the silk road, connecting East to West.
The expansion builds upon the existing historicization of the olfactory arts to the MENA through panels and objects, including an Alembic Distiller, an introduction to Abbasid caliph Harun Al Rashid, famous for his musk composition, an expansion of information about the trade of fragrances and raw materials indigenous to the region to Europe and beyond.
Featured are four new scents and a few examples of raw materials in the popular “test your nose” section, allowing visitors to learn about the essential aromas indigenous to the Middle East, North Africa, and Southwest Asia through both smell and sight. A new interactive section invites visitors to reflect on and share their own relationship with or story to scent on postcards that will then be hung on a wall display for other visitors to read.
Incorporating contemporary culture and artists who work with scent, a visually impactful and interactive temporary installation by emerging Qatari artist Almaha Al-Mahmoud is featured. The installation explores notions of beauty and bridges QAIC’s mission to support emerging artists and its focus on celebrating the olfactory arts as a science and art.