By Natasha Anderson
Explore the artistry, history and science of perfume at The North Carolina Arboretum’s new exhibit, Making Scents: The Art and Passion of Fragrance®, debuting Saturday, May 26, and running through September 3 at the Baker Exhibit Center and throughout the gardens.
“The Arboretum is always looking for innovative ways to connect people with plants,” says Clara Curtis, senior director for mission delivery at the Arboretum. “Making Scents is unique in that it illustrates how a popular commodity—perfume—is largely derived from plants.”
Beginning with traditional harvesting and extraction methods and continuing through the chemical combinations of synthetic fragrances, Making Scents uncovers the technical processes behind perfume creation through an immersive multi-sensory experience that is suitable for the whole family. Attendees can learn everything from the amount of rose petals needed to make Chanel No. 5 to the role of North Carolina farmers in producing an essential fragrance ingredient.
Using one of two computerized stations, visitors can create their own fragrance card through different combinations of what perfumers call top, middle and base notes. The exhibit also includes 10 different stations, each with its own mystery scent and story, accompanied by container gardens that showcase many of the plants that produce the mystery scent.
“Several of the fragrant plants already existed in the Arboretum gardens, including magnolia, lily of the valley, lilac, raspberry, white pine, rosemary and mint,” says Curtis. “Others, such as rose, lemon and vanilla orchid, will be installed for the exhibit.”
Making Scents also features the Perfume Palace, a collection of 200 perfume bottles, with some dating to ancient Greece and Rome and others featuring the work of 19th century art glassmakers and designers such as Lalique, Steuben and Tiffany. The bottles were contributed by International Perfume Bottle Association members, including Brevard residents Frank and Elizabeth Creech and Joe and Janice Boyd. Slideshows containing interesting facts about various bottles and scents will be available for viewing.
“I think attendees will have fun learning the favorite perfumes of various celebrities and guessing which bottles hold fragrances designed by Hollywood icons, fashion designers and musicians,” says IPBA member Elizabeth Creech. “Many of the bottles have unusual shapes and designs—animals, human figures, musical instruments, even a ship.”
The North Carolina Arboretum is located at 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., April through October, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., November through March. Admission is free. A standard $14 per vehicle parking fee is required for non-members. For more information, visit ncarboretum.org.