The Perfume Museum of Barcelona

As I promised in the Visiting Three Monarchies, Part 2: Barcelona post, I’m sharing some of the pictures I took in the Perfume Museum of Barcelona while my stoical vSO was silently suffering from boredom. He admits that it wasn’t all bad: he enjoyed the first part of the exposition – bottles and other vessels from ancient times until the last century arranged by the origin and period. The rest, according to him, was also interesting – just not taking-240-pictures interesting, not counting time I was actually looking through the collection and pointing to him items I considered especially interesting and just had to share.

Lighting conditions were not the most favorable but I tried my best – sorry for shadows, reflections of my fingers and some color distortion. According to the museum’s website, the exposition holds 5,000 pieces – so even after you see all the pictures in this post, you’ll still have more than enough to look forward to on your visit to this museum. I decided not to do a slide show since it doesn’t allow enlarging images. To view larger images, click on any image in each section and keep clicking through.

The historical part of the exposition, while interesting, was not particularly unique: you probably saw similar vases, pots and other pottery in other museums that cover those time periods and geography. Can we imagine that some of these were used for something scent-related? We could thought I wouldn’t have thought about it if it weren’t for where I saw them.

 

 

This is where it started getting interesting: these are still pre-industrial bottles and containers but they were clearly created for perfume, powder and other beauty products:

 

 

It was surprising for me to see that many perfumes from the USSR: I recognized just a couple of names – Красная Москва (Krasnaya Moskva or Red Moscow) and Шипр (Shipr) but most others I had never seen or heard of before. As I mentioned previously, perfumes were rare in my childhood.

 

 

The rest of the exhibition is organized by the brand, older and newer bottles together without the obvious rhyme or reason for perfumes or brands represented:

 

 

I couldn’t help taking multiple pictures of my beloved Miss Dior but was a little disappointed that my life-long love Lancome Climat was “mentioned in passing” – though, I should probably be happy that it made the cut at all:

 

 

There is absolutely no doubt as to which brand is the most dear to organizers: not only there is a full case of different Guerlain bottles from different time periods, but before you are done with the visit you can smell all the current perfumes:

 

 

It is a small museum – just a single large room in the back of Perfumería Regia. They do not have much space left for any of the modern brands; and with their admission price 5 Euro that didn’t change at least for the last 4 years (see Vanessa’s report here), I do not envision significant expansion – so you’re on your own making history of modern perfumery in your perfume cabinets.

 

Images: my own

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22 thoughts on “The Perfume Museum of Barcelona

  1. I really enjoyed reading your take on this little museum, and am pleased to learn the entry fee hasn’t gone up in recent years. The reaction of your longsuffering vSO to your extensive photo taking amused me, but I am glad he found the exhibition interesting in itself – I think it would appeal to non-perfumistas, not least for the variety of bottle shapes. It isn’t easy taking pictures of things in glass cabinets either, but you have captured a lot of the key ‘sights’. The group shots of perfumes arranged by brand are particularly interesting – you can see at a glance how the packaging has evolved. And of course I completely missed the USSR angle. ;) I was more interested in the strange and suggestive names of some of them. (PS Thanks for the linkage.)

    • Thank you, Vanessa! If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have visited that museum.

      While looking at some bottles I realized that many of the “new” things were not that new :)
      If I could spend more time (taking more pictures, reading labels and just examining all the bottle, I would have by I didn’t want to be that cruel :) ).

  2. Wow…thanks for the pictures. Could you imagine having that collection? Just looking at the pictures makes me want to reach out and spritz myself with many of those perfumes. Speaking of Miss Dior, I managed to score a 7 ml vintage extrait on eBay a couple weeks ago for $18. I love when you can get perfumes you absolutely adore for such a bargain price. It makes the purchase all that much more sweeter!

    • Having gone through about 700 perfumes the next day at another store, I can tell you that no, I can’t imagine having such collection :)

      Congratulations on your find! It’s always a pleasure to give home to something beautiful without having to mortgage that said home ;). My 7 ml vintage Miss Dior was also not expensive. EDC + extrait that I bought later were a little more expensive but not too bad. Now I just need to find a pre-“originalle” EdT – and I’ll be content.

  3. Thank you for posting these photos! I’m overwhelmed just looking at the pictures, let alone actually visiting the museum. It may be a small museum, but they definitely pack a lot in. I particularly like the pre-industrial bottles and containers. Such intricate and detailed designs!

    • 5K bottles is a lot. To think about it: not counting ancient times, it took a century of the world producing perfumes to fill in this collection. With the number of perfumes released every year now one could have probably done it in 3-4-years time.

  4. I enjoyed viewing all of your photos, Undina, but those Magie Noire bottles were especially cool to see. I used to gift my mom Magie Noire, back in the 90s, and I love the bottle’s hip vibe!

    • Magie Noire was a popular perfume in the 90s where I lived but somehow I do not remember these bottles at all. I wonder if it was sold in a different packaging in my country?

  5. Great photos (even if light conditions were not perfect)
    That bottle of perfume that looks like a woman’s dress (with a woman on top of that) looks particularly interesting.

    • I also liked it! There were other figurines in the same shelf but I couldn’t figure out how they were related to perfume. But this one was so beautiful and obvious as to the purpose.

  6. Wow! wow! wow! (and there were quite a few bottles I recognized….except for Brigitte Bardot….that one intrigued me as I had never heard of it). thanks for sharing!

    • It made me a little sad to realize how many great perfumes are no more. Also, there are so many beautiful bottles – it’s a pity they are not produced any longer.

  7. Awesome, Undina! You managed to capture the essence of the museum with the pictures you shared. Some of the classic bottles are classic for a reason with their clean lines and have endured the test of time. Your last picture pair is a fun way of closing out your post!

    P.S. And do give your vSO a treat for his patience :-)

    • Lol at a treat for my vSO.

      Some of the bottles are truly amazing. Too bad everything goes into the direction of simplifying and cheapening things – so there’s less and less chances to own one of those if not to dive into the vintage perfume hunting.

  8. These are wonderful photos, apart from the fact that I can’t help feeling sad for the perfumes being ruined by having had them exposed to light. Thank you so much for sharing, and yes, loads of treats to your exceptionally patient vSO 😊

    • I told myself that probably many of these bottles were bought with perfumes that already went off from time and poor handling and were sold as “for collectors” – I see those listings on eBay from time to time.

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