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GRASSE, France — The newly renovated Musée International de la Parfumerie here has reopened after a four-year expansion project that doubled its size to 3,500 square meters, or 37,674 square feet.
The renovation of the museum, which was established in its current space in 1989, cost of 11.3 million euros, or $14.5 million at current exchange.
During festivities at an Oct. 18 opening event, singers and dancers in traditional Provençal costume entertained visitors who included Jean-Claude Ellena, in-house perfumer at Hermès, as well as executives from Chanel, Christian Dior, Guerlain and Thierry Mugler.
The museum, which is in the city at the heart of the French perfume industry, includes terrace gardens of botanicals used as ingredients in fragrances, such as bigarade, a bitter orange and jasmine sambac from Southeast Asia. Interactive features include multimedia stations and there is an array of antique and modern perfume bottles, including Marie Antoinette’s nécessaire, or vanity case. The intricate wooden box contains multiple perfume bottles, a silver bed warming pan and tea service.
There are also scent-inspired installations by contemporary artists.
But it’s not all about the eyes — the museum does offer aromas on demand. Curator Marie-Christine Grasse contended museumgoers should be able to choose whether they want to smell violet in the room featuring Marie Antoinette or incense by the antiquities cases. Visitors can also attend a perfume atelier to sniff the elements that make up a fragrance.