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Smell the art. Scientists to seek mysteries hidden in fragrances of paintings

The Polish-Slovenian team is about to start its project on the development of an international library gathering… fragrances of museum objects. The analysis will include, among others, the famous “Lady with an Ermine”.

According to Darko Knez from the National Museum of Slovenia, museum objects are often associated with fragrances that reflect their historical use, such as measures of conservation and degradation process.

This project will allow us to examine 10 unique objects with different histories. Their smells will be analysed and the historical significance of these fragrances will be assessed.

In laboratories, researchers will carry out numerous chemical analyses of volatile organic compounds emitted by these selected historical objects, constituting their odours. The aim is to combine these fragrances with the study of the history of objects, which may lead to the development of a new interpretation and narrative of the description of an object.

Furthermore, scientists will attempt to scientifically recreate the fragrances, and the entire process will be documented and used to develop the Historical Objects Odor Library – ODOTHEKA.

The research will start on December 1 and the project will run for three years. It is financed by the Slovenian Research Agency and by the Polish National Science Centre.

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