Workshop: Value and role of smells in museum practice

Heritage Science Laboratory Ljubljana hosted a public workshop on the Value and role of smells in museum practice. The event was held on July 4 2022 in a hybrid format, live at Zbornična dvorana of the University of Ljubljana as well as online. The workshop gave participants the opportunity to learn more about smell as cultural heritage and to learn about examples of good practice in olfactory exhibitions and the conservation and restoration aspects of smell.

Compared to other senses, the sense of smell has currently only a minor role in the way heritage and history are communicated, even though smell is fundamental to how humans perceive and deal with the environment, both physically and emotionally. Olfactory displays in museums are still rare, also because a system of characterization, reproduction and preservation of smells of historic objects has not been developed yet

Workshop programme:

  • Dr. Lizzie Marx, University of Cambridge, Department of History of Art: Olfactory exhibitions: examples of good practice
  • Dr Cecilia Bembibre, University College London, Institute for Sustainable Heritage: Smell as Cultural Heritage
  • Professor Dr Mojca Ramšak, University of Ljubljana, Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Arts, Institute for the History of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Laboratory for Heritage Science, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology: Anthropology of Smell
  • Emma Paolin, University of Ljubljana, Heritage Science Laboratory, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology: Conservation Aspects of Smells in the Museum
  • Professor Dr Tomasz Sawoszczuk, Krakow University of Economics: ODOTHEKA – Capture, Reconstruction and Conservation of Heritage Smells

ODOTHEKA project aims to develop an international archive of smells of heritage objects. In the framework of the project, teams of researchers from Ljubljana and Krakow intend analyse the smell of ten historical objects from Slovenian and Polish collections and try to assess the historical significance of these smells. The researchers will carry out a number of chemical analyses in the laboratories of the volatile substances emitted by the objects and which make up their odours. At the same time, they will carry out historical analyses of the objects, which will open up space for new interpretations.

The event was moderated by Dr Jernej Kotar (National Museum of Slovenia) and Professor Dr Matija Strlič (University of Ljubljana, Heritage Science Laboratory, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology).

Please contact us for further information or to establish collaboration.

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