Friday, 3 June 2016




Have you ever been camping? Imagine yourself out exploring nature. Your tent is set up, and the sun is setting in the distance. You have a fire cracking in the background; the pleasant scent of smoke fills your nose. I cannot explain, but the scent of smoke is very distinct in my mind. Every time I smell a wood fire, I am brought back to my childhood memories of roasting marshmallows on the fire with my family.

When smelling the "scratch and sniff" card at the Bytown museum in Ottawa, I was not brought back to my childhood camping memories. The "scratch and sniff" card is supposed to replicate the smell of the Great Fire of 1900. This fire destroyed both the city of Ottawa and Hull, leaving 15, 000 people homeless. The "scratch and sniff" card provided by the museum gave off a strong, toxic smell, unlike my childhood memories of camp fire songs and marshmallow roasting. The smell made me feel afraid.
Personal Photo: Hayley Mae Jones

This object shows the power smells can have on a visitor.

Many museum scholars such as Sandra Dudley explore the idea of mutisensorial museum experiences. These experiences immerse all five of the visitor's physical senses: sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. These types of experiences are meant to engage visitors while creating unique and memorable experiences.

This being said, the sense of smell is difficult to incorporate into public settings. There are many people who suffer from allergies and sensitivities to smell, making it dangerous to have different smells dispersed throughout museums. The fact that the Bytown was able to incorporate the use of smells within their exhibit in a safe manner, makes their "scratch and sniff" cards my object of the week.

Let me know in the comments below if you have had a multisensorial experience in a museum!

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