Intriguing immersive exhibit explores the relationship between culture and scent

Intriguing immersive exhibit explores the relationship between culture and scent

The National Museum's Perfumes of the East exhibition is an enchanting mix of history, distinct regional scents, and visual stimulation
03 July 24
يستمر معرض عطور الشرق حتى 14 سبتمبر المقبل، المصدر: أحمد كارتر Unsplash Image source:

In today’s culturally varied and ever more integrated world, there are still elements of life that unwaveringly reflect individual cultures, like fragrance.

And if you want an in-depth insight into the rich history of the region’s deep relationship with perfumes, the Perfumes of the East exhibition can’t be ignored.

Running at the Saudi National Museum until 14 September, the exhibition, held under the patronage of the Minister of Culture His Highness Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud, is an intriguing immersive olfactory and visual journey.

It’s a display of the east’s exclusive fragrances and the cultural traditions that have made perfume an important part of life.

About Perfumes of the East

The Perfumes of the East exhibition was designed in a way that guarantees a balanced blend of olfactory and visual stimulation.

Innovative devices are strategically positioned to release fragrance throughout the showcase, offer visitors a mesmeric scented experience curated specifically for the exhibition by internationally renowned perfume designer Christopher Sheldrake.

The workshops and seminars at the exhibition, an initiative aligning with the Saudi National Museum's commitment to celebrate the country’s cultural heritage and promote the richness of Arab and Islamic civilisation, are an added reason to visit. They offer insights into ingredients, perfume-making craft, and packaging design.

Explore the Relationship Between Scent and Culture

Marking the first international leg of its journey in Riyadh and organised in partnership with Paris’ Institut du Monde Arabe, Perfumes of the East highlights the cultural and historical significance of perfumes in the Arab world.

The exhibition traces its origins to the Arabian Peninsula, a key trade hub that sourced and distributed precious aromatic materials to ancient societies. A profound passion for perfumes ensued, turning the peninsula into an epicentre for a civilisation that appreciated fragrances and used them for enrichment. As perfumes became popular, they became synonymous with familiarity, respect, and generosity in daily exchanges.

Discover More About Fragrance

Featuring over 200 archaeological gems and contemporary artworks, the exhibition is made up of three sections: Sublime & Generous Nature, Scents of the City and Fragrant Courtesy.

Sublime and Generous Nature is a timeless theme which delves into the history of perfumes, highlighting the raw materials of flowers, spices, and fragrant natural resins, that are used in the process. Plus, there’s a look at the unique ingredients that played a major role in the art of perfume-making, such as frankincense, amber, and myrrh.

Additionally, The Scents of the City section guides visitors through several urban districts, showing how perfumes are a collective experience that seep into the foundation of social interactions among loved ones.

Then there is the final section of Fragrant Courtesy, which underscores the social traditions and customs revolving around perfumes in Islamic civilisation and around the area. Ritual practices involving scent such has Bakhoor and scenting guests to ensure they receive a warm welcome are all touched on in this part of the exhibition.

Take a Look Inside

Perfumes of the East, from May 21 - September 14,
Tickets from SAR29
The National Museum, King Saud Rd, King Faisal Road, Riyadh 


Buy your tickets here