In the exhibition Nez à nez. Contemporary perfumers, we follow the trajectory and creative processes of those working in the complex and demanding world of perfumery. The aim is to give the public access to some of the insider secrets of a creative medium that touches us all. At mudac, the idea of an exhibition on perfumery was long in the works. Like fashion, the creation of perfume is an applied art: a craft that must take into account how the end-product will be used. Perfume-making is a specialised discipline that requires extensive expertise and no shortage of creative curiosity. Perfumers compose, blend, assemble, assess, smell… and tell a story.

To show just how complex and diverse the world of perfumery is, the exhibition spotlights the creations of thirteen perfumers from various countries and backgrounds: men and women, at different stages of their careers, working independently, as head of their own brand or for a perfume house. We teamed up with the perfumers themselves and the experts from the olfactory magazine Nez to select three fragrances by each creator to feature in the exhibition.

Nez à nez. Contemporary perfumers presents the perfumer’s art at three different levels: the individual creator’s experience, in the form of interviews; common themes uniting the work of two or three perfumers; and general information introducing the craft. For mudac, the main question was how to present something as intangible as scent in a museum context where the visual dominates. How could we display fragrances without influencing the public’s perception of them, and keep perfume centre stage? Sarah van Gameren and Tim Simpson of the studio Glithero have taken up the challenge and created six olfactory installations that take visitors on a poetic, sensorial journey into the world of scents. Design thus plays an essential role in elevating the art of perfumery.

In parallel, Le Musée de la Main UNIL-CHUV will hold an exhibition entitled What a Nose! Scents and Feelings, in which visitors will be invited to discover the amazing powers of humans’ often underappreciated sense of smell. The exhibition will include a large array of sensorial experiences and art installations and explore the way our sense of smell contributes to how we perceive our bodies and those of others, as well as how we understand ourselves and relate to the world. The two museums will host joint events throughout both exhibitions.