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Inside Venice’s Perfume Museum

Inside Venice’s Perfume Museum: Museo di Palazzo Moceniga

venice perfume museum

Here’s a hidden gem in one of Italy’s most beautiful cities for perfume lovers of all ages. It’s a spectacular fragrance museum that is both educational and inspirational.

venice

City: Venice

Destination: Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo

Address: Santa Croce 1992, 30135, Venezia, Italy

Location: The museum is a 40 minute walk north of Piazza San Marco and the Doge’s Palace

Perfume museum: Open the wooden doors to this century’s old palazzo and you’ll find one of the world’s top fragrance museums that not only recounts the history of Italy’s top perfumers, but reveals glass showcases of rare & extraordinary perfume flacons, bottles and charms. There are five rooms dedicated to perfume with multi-media instruments and bowls of ingredients to smell. Be sure to take time to watch the video that illustrates the role of Venice in the history of perfume. The Venetian perfumers were so savvy about marketing scents. They created posters and pamphlets that described their latest creations using exotic and rare ingredients. There is a room that evokes the lab of a perfumer in the 16th century complete with one of the few remaining fragrance organs, a desk with rows of bottled ingredients arranged in the shape of an amphitheatre. The top perfumers stored their recipes to make soaps, oils, pastes, powders and perfumes to scent clothes, gloves, rooms and women. These recipes were so precious, they were kept under lock and key.

 

venice perfume museum

The Art of the Perfume Bottle

perfume books

Perfume enthusiasts planning a trip to Italy in the coming months may want to book an extra day in Venice to explore one of the world’s foremost perfume museums. Tucked along a residential street outside of the tourist attractions, the Museo di Palazzo Moceniga is a revelation of fragrance history. Pay the $15 entrance and you are directed up the marble staircase to the second floor where you are greeted by the Storp Collection of rare perfume bottles of such beauty & artistry. The carefully edited collection of bottles and perfume accessories spans the length of a ballroom that is lined with massive oil paintings dating to the 1500s and capped by frescos along the second story ceiling. It is a breathtaking sight.

venice perfume museum The permanent exhibit is on loan from Germany’s Drom Company which was founded in 1911 by Dr. Bruno Storp and his wife Dora who were passionate collectors of precious fragrance bottles. By 1921, the couple had amassed a museum-quality collection of flacons which Dora dedicated her life to maintaining and enhancing.

venice perfume museum

The Storp Collection today holds more than 3,000 rare pieces, some almost 6,000 years old. It’s overseen by Dr. Ferdinand and Dr. Andreas Storp, third-generation family members who now run the business. Both agreed Palazzo Mocenigo as the perfect location to exhibit their ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ exhibit.

vintage perfume bottles“As a city of arts and craftsmanship, Venice provides the ideal stage for this extraordinary exhibition of flacon bottles, all notable pieces of art and craftsmanship,” says Dr Ferdinand Storp.

vintage perfume bottles “The fascinating thing about these perfume-bottle treasures is that they are still able to tell the same story that the fragrance inside them told at their time. The fragrance may have evaporated hundreds of years ago on the velvety skin of a beautiful lady, but you can still see the flacon and the image of her story – which is yet another parallel to Venice, where every building, every corner, and every stone has its own story and history to tell.”

perfume bottle for prince douka

The first bottle that catches your eye is a flacon by Marquay, Paris for the perfume “Prince Douka”. It’s crafted with opaque glass tampion in the shape of a head with maharajah turban. It’s covered with a white fabric cape decorated with glass stones.

normandy fragrance bottleSteps away is the 1935 Jean Patou fragrance that was created for the maiden voyage of the S.S. Normandie, arguably the most luxurious ship of its era. Patou commissioned a famous metal worker to create a miniature of the ship cast in silver plated pewter. The 15 ml parfum bottle was housed in its main smoke-stack and featured a screw-off cap. This exquisite perfume bottle was presented to each lady who held a first-class ticket on the maiden voyage. The scent itself was a Floriental with warm woody notes and boasts notes of neroli, ylang ylang, orange blossom, orris, carnation, styrax, vetiver, oak moss, vanilla, amber, cedarwood and benzoin – all popular ingredients today.

elephant fragrance bottle

Elephants were featured predominantly in fragrance bottle design because the animals represented good fortune and wisdom. You can see this illustrated in a 19th Century French bronze design depicting an elephant carrying two glass flacons with a tilting mirror to allow exact application. It was to be shown proudly on a vanity table.

vintage perfume bottle Of course, if you were royalty or a wealthy aristocrat, perfume bottles with semi-precious stones were preferred. This 1850 flacon from Russia boasted silver, turquoise and pearls fashioned with spirals of embossed flowers, rolled leaves, turquoise and pearls. It’s a work of art.

porcelain perfume bottle

Not all perfume bottles were crafted from glass or crystal. Porcelain was surprisingly popular, likely because it was less expensive to produce. This white spherical vessel was manufactured in Meissen, Germany in the 19th century with a long, slightly cambered neck. It was covered in polychromatic three-dimensional flowers and a pair of songbirds. It is likely, due to the size, to have housed an eau de cologne, which was meant to be splashed liberally on the body.

perfumed pearls

Or how about a pearl chain with detachable pearls filled with the perfume “Chypre” by Ota, Paris. This chain of 10 pearl-shaped flacons like Christmas ball ornaments that nest one against another. It was crafted from glass and fabric in the first half of the 20th century. It’s innovative a century later.

schiaparelli sun king poster

schiaparelli sun king fragrance

A visit to the Venice Perfume Museum isn’t complete without seeing an original Schiaparelli perfume bottle, arguably some of the most creative and striking designs. Hidden in corner armoire you’ll spot one: Le Roy Soleil, 1946’s Sun King that celebrated the end of World War II. It came in a Baccarat crystal bottle designed by Salvador Dali. It’s guaranteed to send shivers down the spine of any perfume enthusiast.

venice perfume museum

Destination: Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo

Address: Santa Croce 1992, 30135, Venezia, Italy

Location: The museum is a 40 minute walk north of Piazza San Marco and the Doge’s Palace

50 Comments

  • Reply
    Cassandra D
    January 12, 2024 at 9:04 pm

    I would love to visit the perfume museum and take a trip into history back in the day.

  • Reply
    Mary H.
    January 12, 2024 at 3:22 pm

    I love the globe in the elephant bottle photo. It may be a side decoration. Very interesting article. Beautiful bottles.

  • Reply
    Wendy Browne
    January 12, 2024 at 10:58 am

    Beautiful photos of the exhibition

  • Reply
    Grace Sumner
    January 10, 2024 at 4:44 pm

    Looks amazing I can’t believe I never knew about it!

  • Reply
    Hazel smithies
    January 10, 2024 at 1:18 pm

    Gorgeous place. Would love to visit it. So interesting.

  • Reply
    Grieta Allison
    December 26, 2023 at 5:56 pm

    Beautiful!!! On my wishlist ♡

  • Reply
    Joanne Elford
    December 20, 2023 at 10:56 pm

    Wow, I was in Venice a couple years ago and thought I saw everything. I hadn’t even heard about the Museo di Palazzo Moceniga. Next time I will go visit it for sure. 💝

  • Reply
    Trisha Pedros
    December 20, 2023 at 8:25 am

    I need to go back to Italy and visit all the Perfume factories and museums! What a dream come true that would be. I love the S.S. Normandie bottle wow! Thank you as always for sharing your experience with me!

  • Reply
    Yevette Parker
    December 15, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    I didn’t know this existed! Amazing
    I would enjoy this so much.

  • Reply
    Jamie Johnson
    December 15, 2023 at 2:45 pm

    Wow! Now that’s my kind of museum! So cool! Yeah, I’d have to hold that Dali bottle, too! Add this to the places I intend to visit when I’m in Italy. Thanks Dave!

  • Reply
    Linda Sear
    December 15, 2023 at 1:52 pm

    This is definitely a great reason to visit Venice! I never even knew there was such a thing as a perfume museum?!

  • Reply
    Susan T.
    December 15, 2023 at 12:45 pm

    I didn’t know about this when I was in Venice. Maybe next time I’ll get there!

  • Reply
    Ivy Koh
    December 15, 2023 at 4:36 am

    Great research!

  • Reply
    Gabriela L.
    December 15, 2023 at 3:41 am

    Wow, it is such a great experience for a parfume lover!

  • Reply
    Gabrielle
    December 14, 2023 at 6:50 pm

    I would love to experience this place. The recreation of a 16th century perfume lab alone would be worth the trip!

  • Reply
    Denise
    December 14, 2023 at 3:54 pm

    What an amazing museum!

    @momof3boysj

  • Reply
    Nicole G
    December 14, 2023 at 1:49 pm

    This is incredible. I know perfume is mentioned in old literature, but I’ve never really stopped to consider what a history it has. I would love to visit sometime and just marvel at it all.

  • Reply
    Maria
    December 14, 2023 at 9:33 am

    WOW how amazing! I would love to visit this museum one day! It’s absolutely beautiful! so much history and beauty.

  • Reply
    Urmi Pandya
    December 14, 2023 at 9:30 am

    Need to go here!!! So amazing 😍 that schiaparelli perfume bottle is a treasure!!

  • Reply
    Aleksandra Nearing
    December 14, 2023 at 8:43 am

    I had no idea Venice had a perfume museum! I would love to visit and see it for myself.

  • Reply
    Shannon Ryan
    December 14, 2023 at 8:17 am

    Wow some of those bottles are really beautiful

  • Reply
    Franca
    December 13, 2023 at 10:08 pm

    Wow, Venice is filled with so many fascinating things!

  • Reply
    Brenda Cremer
    December 13, 2023 at 5:03 pm

    Oh now this is on my bucket list for sure! @brendacremer

  • Reply
    Katy B
    December 13, 2023 at 1:47 pm

    Just got back from Venice did not know this existed! Gives me an excuse to go back☺️

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