The Aftel Archive of Curious Scents, which opened this month in a converted garage on the Berkeley, Calif., home of the perfumer Mandy Aftel, isn’t simply the first museum in the U.S. devoted to fragrance, but more beguilingly, the first one devoted to the enjoyment of fragrance. This tiny museum manages to comprise the olfactory records of the world: loads of natural essences, uncooked ingredients and vintage tinctures amassed from each corner of the globe, and all to be had for traffic to odor.

Aftel’s obsession with herbal essences and their records and ephemera took preserve at the same time as writing her high-quality-selling e-book “Essence and Alchemy” some 20 years in the past. Her idea changed into to open up and share the pleasures — and treasures — of herbal essences with others.

Many of the sniffable well-known shows derived from flora, roots, leaves, bark, resins, and balsams the museum also affords a perfumer’s “organ,” or workbench, a perfume deconstructed into its aspect parts and drawers of uncooked components. one of the most captivating aspects of perfume is the use of animal scents, maximum of which might be derived from not terribly desirable-sounding factors like excrement or perineal secretions.

Exhibits permit site visitors to apprehend in which these components come from, see the raw substances and odor aspect through aspect contemporary, ethnically rendered animal-derived tinctures and their antique opposite numbers. Spending an hour in right here, that is what one is allotted with the purchase of a $20 ticket, is an emotional adventure of breathing in odors that conjure ancient civilizations and one’s very own beyond.

The scent is the maximum direct of the senses, smells reach our brains unmediated, and perhaps that is why olfactory experiences cut so deep — bringing us not just to a secondhand memory of something, however seemingly straight again to it. So even as effectively demystifying perfume, the adorable little Aftel Archive also enhances its thriller.

NY Times