Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Smell & Tell: The Smell of Mummies

The Smell of Mummies takes place at the Ann Arbor District Library
on Thursday, November 14, 2019, from 6:30-8:45PM. 

Several ingredients used in the ancient Egyptian ritual of mummification can also be found in today's luxury perfumes. Sound gruesome? Take heart. This isn’t fodder for conspiracy theories, but it’s definitely inspiration for the inevitable question. If aromatic materials used in perfumery were also used to send mummies into the afterlife what on earth do mummies smell like?

Are you imagining the smells of a dead body in the process of mummification when considering this question? Stop those thoughts immediately and put on your Sherlock Holmes hat! We’re in it for the science at Smell & Tell so Michelle Krell Kydd went to the Kelsey Museum of Archeology at the University of Michigan to smell mummies. Sounds strange, alluring and slightly macabre, but when the “Nose of Ann Arbor” needs answers she literally sniffs them out.

Kydd took her fearless nose to the basement of the Kelsey Museum and was escorted to a temperature-controlled room where she encountered a mummified a falcon, a mummified dog (that was really a fake mummy made from jumbled children’s bones), and a human mummy. At the end of her quest she was overheard telling a Kelsey Museum staff member, “Damn the mummy powder drinkers and the Victorians with their lust for the aromatic dead.”

When the Ann Arbor District Library asked Kydd about the smell of mummies she had this to say, “Mummies don’t smell like decomposition, but they don’t smell like Chanel N°5 either.” We’ll smell beautiful natural extracts used in mummification that are also used in modern luxury perfumes at this Smell & Tell program. Simulacra of Mummy a perfume inspired by the smell of mummies at the Kelsey Museum, will also be experienced.

The scent flight for The Smell of Mummies includes: N° 1: Lotus of Nefertem, N° 2: Hatshepsut at Punt, N° 3: Mut’s Kyphi, N° 4: Egyptian Jasmine, N° 5: The Embalmer’s Jar, N° 6: Simulacra of Mummy, N° 7: Victorian Sham, and N° 8: Allamistakeo’s Cigar. If you don't know who Allamistakeo is and consider yourself an Edgar Allan Poe fan, visit the Poe Museum website and learn about Some Words with a Mummy. Warning: What you learn may alter romantic notions of Victorian culture, should you harbor them.

The Smell and Tell series of art+science programming is led by Michelle Krell Kydd, a trained nose in flavors and fragrance who shares her passion for gastronomy and the perfume arts on Glass Petal Smoke. Smell & Tell builds community through interactions with flavor, fragrance and storytelling. The Smell and Tell series celebrates it's seventh anniversary year at the Ann Arbor District Library and is ongoing.

Smell & Tell events are listed on the right hand page of Glass Petal Smoke and removed after an event takes place. Complete information for specific public programs, like The Smell of Mummies, will be posted in the blog for reference over time.

The body of work for Smell & Tell programming, which began in 2012, reaches the 100th program mark at the University of Michigan with the introduction of Sacred Scents, an exploration of religiously significant scents from Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the three Abrahamic traditions. The event, which is designed for University of Michigan Students, debuts on November 7, 2019.

Smell & Tell: The Smell of Mummies
Date: Thursday, November 14, 2019
Time: 6:30-8:45PM (early arrival recommended)
Location: Ann Arbor District Library (Downtown Branch)
Address: 343 South Fifth Avenue, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104
Phone: 734-327-4200
Admission: Free as Smell & Tell is sponsored by AADL
Link to Event: https://aadl.org/node/397485