Creating the Perfect Stink at the British Museum!

  • Posted on 21st April 2011 by Emily
  • A couple of weeks ago we were lucky enough to hold a perfumery workshop at the British Museum for some of their Young Friends aged between 8 and 15.

  • We’re big fans of the British Museum and have whiled away many hours wandering amongst their exhibits or just sitting and staring at their beautiful roof. But for one day only, we were the exhibits! The workshop gave the Young Friends the chance to find out about the history of fragrance, how fragrance is created and the most exciting bit, creating a perfume themselves.

    I kicked off the day for the 15 kids (and their parents) by talking through 3000 years of fragrance history, taking them back to ancient Egypt and up to the modern day.  I entertained them with stories of civet and ambergris and then took them through the last century of classic fragrances; from Jicky all the way through to One Million! It was brilliant to watch their reactions to smelling some of the older classics, many of which they pronounced to be ‘grandma’ fragrances. Thierry Mugler’s Angel was a big hit (no surprise there) whilst all the parents hated it!

    We loved seeing some of the mum’s rediscovering the fragrances of their youth, mainly Charlie, Opium and Poison. Poison was also a favourite amongst the Young Friends, they loved the sweetness and the apple shaped bottle.
    Our Head of Fragrance, Nathalie Vinciguerra, then took over and explained the science behind scent; from how we smell to how ‘noses’ create the fragrances that we buy! She also introduced them to the fragrance families in preparation for the final part of the day’s workshop; creating their own bespoke fragrance with the help of a lovely lady called Valentine who works at Firmenich and is helping us with our 2011 launch Fitzrovia!

    We asked each Young Friend to come up with a name for their fragrance, explain the inspiration behind their scent and choose from a list of ten notes to include in their fragrance. Then in our mini laboratory, wearing protective goggles and lab coats, Valentine and Nathalie helped them to create their scents in our cute mini bottles! Children learning about fragrance at The Science Museum London
    Finally, they moved into the Samsung Digital Discovery Centre to create their fragrance labels and then attached ribbons around the neck of the bottle to complete their bespoke scent!  They got to take their creations home with them along with a little goody bag of Penhaligon’s samples (which we suspect may be ‘looked after’ by some of the mums!). You can see more pictures of the event and the Young Friend’s creations on the British Museum’s Flickr page - definately worth a peek! The finished bottles at The Science Museum
    It was a brilliant day, we really enjoyed teaching them and hope we inspired some future perfumers!  Some of their creations were really very good! Do you think we should run workshops like this for grown-ups? Would you be interested in attending if we did?
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