{Spain} Museu del Perfum

May 30, 2012


Museu del Perfum - Perfume Museum - Barcelona

Right, here’s the first of my Barcelona museum adventures. The Perfume Museum of Barcelona, located through the back of the Perfumeria Regia at Passeig del Gràcia no. 39, was founded in the early 1960s to exhibit an evolution of perfume vessels throughout history and from around the world. One reviewer on Foursquare said “It’s just a collection of small bottles (with dust), not really perfume”, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Firstly, they’re not all small bottles; while the collection does include some miniatures, there are also some giant sized bottles so big they have to sit on top of the display cases! Secondly, there are around 5000 perfume bottles and other vessels on display. I’d say that’s plenty to qualify as a museum.

Museu del Perfume - Perfume Museum - Barcelona

The collection is divided into two. One half takes us chronologically from the ancient cultures of Egypt, Greece and Rome, to modern times. It includes everything from Ancient Greek ointment jars and a cosmetic box for black eye make up from Pre-dynastic Egypt, to a prized perfume box with two flasks that belonged to Marie Antoinette. Each exhibit is labeled by country and date of origin, and while I needed to refer to Google Translate for some of the longer labels that accompanied key objects, I understood enough of the Catalan to recognise that the glass, ceramic, terracotta and metal pots, jars, tubs, bottles and novelty shaped containers ranged from ancient times to the late 19th century, taking in not only Egypt, Greece and Italy, but also Africa, Argentina, Austria, Bhutan, China, Cuba, France, Holland, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nepal, Palestine, Poland, Romania, Spain, Thailand, Turkey and the USSR (and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few).

The second half is a ‘who is who’ of the perfume world from the late 18th century until today, including everyone from Calvin Klein, Issey Miyake and Alexander McQueen, to Coco Chanel, Helena Rubenstein and Vivienne Westwood. The perfumes are grouped by brands, regardless of which year they appeared on the market. The beauty of this is that you can see how brands have changed over the years. The collection includes some rare and precious bottles, such as a bottle designed by Salvador Dali for Schiaparelli,  a set of golliwog flacons from Vigny (that would never see the day today), and a first edition bottle commemorating  the first anniversary of Empressa, signed by Christian Dior. Completing the collection is a display case with beautiful 19th century perfume powder boxes, and a photo album with a gallery of famous perfumers, both still living and deceased.

Whether or not a visit to the museum is worth 5 Euro or not (the Foursquae reviewer thinks not), depends on how much you love museums or perfume I guess. I happily spent an hour marvelling at the 5000 bottles on display, which not only mirror the art and culture of the societies that used them, but also reflect the artistic movements that emerged throughout history. As the museum puts it on their website “La visita al Museo del Perfume constituye una lección de historia del arte y un placer para la vista.” – A visit to the Perfume Museum is an art history lesson and a pleasure to behold (courtesy of Google Translate).

You can also view around 300 of the perfume bottles on the museum’s website, alongside further information on the history of perfume, penned by the museum’s founder Ramon Planas. If you’re interested in the subject matter, it’s well worth sending the pages through Google Translate, or following one of the man links to other perfume or perfume related museums.


Btw, I have no affiliation to Google Translate, it just proved really handy since I speak neither Spanish or Catalan. You can of course use any other translation service instead. 

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2 Responses to “{Spain} Museu del Perfum”

  1. Theresa Macaulay Says:

    Wow Jenni! This looks wonderful – for some reasons the images make me want to put on a head scarf and dance around to this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWeezUxIzaE



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