Huntington Library – The Institute for Art and Olfaction

In 2015 the IAO teamed up with The Hungtington Library in Pasadena to come up with six environmental scents for their new visitor’s center. The scents would serve to evoke the library and garden’s rich cultural and olfactory history.

Frequent IAO collaborator Sherri Sebastian (Sebastian Signs) was the perfumer for the project.


Huntington_4The Scents

Over the course of two months, and in collaboration with the IAO and The Huntington, Sherri composed six scents related to touch-points in the history of the property.

The scents are:

1892: The natural landscape (the scent of warm oaks and sage in the California sun)
1907: Orchards (evoking orange trees and orange-blossoms)
1908: Rose Garden (evoking a rose garden – thorns included)
1914:  The Barn (evoking alfalfa, milk and warm animals)
1920: Library (evoking old dusty books in a clean, cool library)
1940: Eucalyptus grove (evoking eucalyptus and fresh greenery)

Scent Exhibition

Huntington_5The scents are part of a permanent exhibit in the visitor’s center.

The exhibit designer – Karina White – collaborated with a designer to come up with an elegant and sturdy method for displaying the perfumes. The method had to meet several requirements: The scents had to be portable, they had to be personal (eg not overwhelm the space) and they had to be easily refillable.

To fill these need, the designer attached a petri dish containing a scent-carrier to the bottom of simple but sturdy perforated wooden bowls.

To refresh the scent, the exhibition managers simply use a dropper to inbue the carrier with the perfume. To experience the scents, visitors are invited to pick up the bowl and take a sniff.

To experience the project for yourself, please visit The Huntington Library’s new visitor center. Visiting hours and more information can be found at