Ever wondered what it was like to walk through Claude Monet's garden? Visitors to In Bloom: Painting Flowers in the Age of Impressionism can get one step closer to the impressionist master's own backyard through The Impressionist Garden: Scent Experience.
This optional room will take visitors on a journey of the senses, starting with a photomural of the artist in his garden at Giverny, the inspirational site for many of Monet's paintings. As visitors walk through the room, they’ll be met with a full ambient experience designed to simulate a stroll through nature—the lights even mimic the delicacy of sunlight dappled through trees.
The real highlights of this synesthetic experience, however, are the original scents created by perfumer Dawn Spencer-Hurwitz. A frequent collaborator with the Denver Art Museum, Dawn’s current creations merge olfactory art pieces with the collection’s visual art to transport visitors to another time and place. “Inside the room, the scents co-mingle and create an overall aromatic experience, but you will notice pockets of specific floral aromas and greenery,” Dawn said. Specifically, visitors may notice “blue and violet” flowers, “red and pink” flowers, and a green garden atmosphere in a total of three bouquets:
“Le Jardin Vert” (The Green Garden): a refreshing, slightly cleansing blend of green leaves, trees, and moist earth scent. This aroma of fresh cut leaves and soil greets the visitor and gives its last breath to you as you leave the garden room.
“La Danse des Bleus et des Violettes” (The Dance of Blues and Violets): a lighter, mildly watery interpretation of violets, heliotrope, irises, and lilacs.
“L’Opera des Rouges et des Roses” (The Opera of Red and Pinks)”: a dramatic, heady scent dominated by old roses, red and pink, peonies, red geraniums, and carnations.
“I intended for the designs to not only reflect the flowers in the paintings, but also to give a sense of what impressionism entails,” Dawn said. “A ‘plein air’ feeling, a kind of lightness and airiness that I feel is found in many impressionist paintings, much like the fleeting delight of walking through a flower garden in full bloom.”
Special scent cards that release the overall garden aroma when scratched are available. Visitors also can even take their trip to Giverny home with them—Dawn's original aromas are available in The Shop as eau de toilette sprays, room sprays, sample sets, and pure perfumes.
“To give visitors the opportunity to engage multiple senses around the same subject matter is really on the cutting edge of what art experience is all about,” Dawn said. “I hope that everyone who comes through the scent room will feel as if the show has just blossomed before them and been made all the more real, memorable, and enjoyable.”
In Bloom is on view at the DAM through Oct. 11, 2015 as a ticketed exhibition, free for members.
For more interactive, flower-centered fun, be sure to check out the DAM's Plaza Programs, a series of creative workshops running all summer long in the Martin Plaza!
Image: Monet in his garden at Giverny ©RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY.