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CULTURE
Sensorium
A fragrance-focused pop-up museum that engages all five senses
by Laura Neilson
on 26 October 2011
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Comprising a series of multifaceted and interactive sensory experiences that go beyond just the act and perception of sniffing perfume, the Sensorium is the world's first scent museum of its kind. Starting with the history and science of perfume—dating as far back as 2000 BC—the multimedia pop-up, a collaboration between Sephora and one of the world's largest fragrance companies, Firmenich, goes on to present fragrance as a composition of emotional alchemy: the complex interaction of impressions conveyed by various ingredients and how they blend together.

In order to give an enhanced context to what's typically regarded as one of our more abstract senses, the creative studio Neverstop and The D4D collaborated on an installation that relied on architects, designers, technologists and writers, as well as a team of master perfumers from Firmenich. The result is an ingenious and thrilling experience that heightens one's perception of scent by its interaction with sight, sound, as well as an individual's memories and emotions.

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In addition to a momentary stop in a scent-deprivation chamber and a fragrance "flight bar," visitors also pass through "First Scent," an audio-visual set-up that coordinates with custom fragrances redolent of early-morning breakfasts, salty beach air and freshly-cut blades of grass—scents that are distinct and recognizable on their own, but often fraught with one's associations to specific moments and memories.

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"Lucid dreams," Sensorium's piece de resistance, explores the physical act of smelling. Images projected on a wall morph according to an individual's particular sniff (audibly measured by sniff-registering flower sculptures), and how it changes according to the scent.

Sensorium runs through 27 November 2011 at 414 West 14th Street in New York. For tickets and hours, check out the Sensorium site at Sephora.

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