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Scents of the City exhibition captures what Brisbane smells like

ED Origin Technology Co.,Ltd | Updated: Jul 01, 2017


One hundred residents were asked for their responses for a new interactive exhibition — Scents of the City, part of the Museum of Brisbane's 100% Brisbane project.

The top four smells were mangroves, sunshine, frangipani and thunderstorms.


Curator Phil Manning said recreating the scents to match the responses was challenging.

"To deliver Scents of the City we had to look at perfumes to try and work on," he said.

"We also had to look at the fixatives that help the aroma last, to keep its longevity."

Mr Manning said they worked with local business Damask, which has been creating scents in Brisbane since the 1970s.

"Surprisingly they said creating the smell of mangroves hasn't been their most challenging scent they've ever had," Mr Manning said.

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Aroma explosions

Visitors to the exhibition are invited to smell scents through perspex tubes.

"It's been fun watching visitors as people expect a traditional museum experience," Mr Manning said.

"But they see these fragrance oils in diffusers and they turn the knob and they get an explosion of aroma.

"We're still working on getting mangrove a little more mangrovey."

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Memories through smell

Mr Manning said residents' responses were mixed — half were literal smells and the other half were conceptual ones like sunshine.

"Another was from Brendan who spoke about burning rubbish in the backyard when incinerators were used in the '80s.

"Smell is one of the senses that's closely linked to memory ... it takes people back in time."

Mr Manning said during the three-year exhibition, the scents might change thanks to input from visitors.

"Exhibition visitors have been asked what their favourite scent is, so we might develop more scents in the future."


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