Palazzo Mocenigo is one of the most beautiful and well-organized museum I have ever seen. It is located in Venice, a couple of metres from San Stae ferry-boat stop in the Canal Grande. I had promised myself in the past to visit it and finally I founded the time to do it. Unfortunately, the museum is not very popular among the tourists, but at least the venue wasn't crowded and I could enjoy the tour better. This two-storey building hosts a collection of perfumes and an exhibition of several hundred Venetian costumes. Overall, the warehouse of the Institution counts over ten thousand pieces ranging from kimonos to corsets, from ample skirts to fans and capes.
The first set-up you see is the temporary exhibition of the Storp Collection, called Little Big Things. The Storp Family is the founder of Drom Fragrances and, during the years it has collected over 3000 flacons and perfumes containers that span six millenniums of history. This tour articulates four different themes: The Divine, The Identity, Protection and Love. We were not allowed to take photographs, but trust me, the collection is amazing. For each topic an array of perfumes is displayed. For example: The Identity path includes Elsa Schiaparelli first fragrance Shocking dated 1937, while for the Divine section you can admire Thierry Mugler Angel of 1994 and for the Divine and Myth theme Guerlain with his Bouquet des Fleurs, created in 1922.
You can experience all the concepts within perfumes, from the holy use to the hygienic one, by looking at the Egyptian and Magna Grecian bottles belonging to the 4th, 3rd and 2nd BC. Another example of the importance of perfume follows with the XVII flacons utilized to carry vinaigrette and essential oils to be used for intimacy.
Luxury intent is included in the exposition and you are also able to admire Boucheron and Cartier jewellery works of art. Nevertheless, each single piece is a mix and triumph of ebony, silver, glass, gold, velvet, enamel, crystal and other precious gems.
The temporary exhibition will run till January 6, 2015.
In the first floor a temporary exhibition has been set. Among luxurious furniture and paintings, there is a table which hosts Murano glass ampules. In every bottle you smell a different scent each time. Here it is the list: cedar wood, sandalwood, lavender, oak moss, vanilla, bergamot, mandarin, lemon, petit grain, orange flower, tuberose and rose. The origins of the fragrances range from Turkey to Egypt, Paraguay, Italy, India, China, Morocco, Tunisia, Argentina, Ivory Coast and Thailand.
A touch-screen computer guides the visitor to better understand the techniques involved in extracting the aromas and the perfumes. So, you can learn about the ancient distillation enfleurage, or about the modern steam distillation and solvent extractions.
The next rooms are full of perfumer's tools and manuals useful to his profession. Further, a desk shows several samples and a small scale belonged to the perfume-maker. The studio recalls the work of an alchemist figure; sure there has been mysticism even around the perfumer profession. Indeed, in those laboratories, dated from 16th century, the masters also used to prepare liquids, pastes, oils and powders. Moreover there is an old map representing the so called "Mude" ("journeys" in the Venetian dialect) that were made to trade different kind of soaps.
Interesting and wonderful is the section dedicated to the lifestyle and fashion of Venetian nobles. You will see groups of mannequins dressed like women in their puffed and light coloured skirts. Women adored that kind of outfit: ample skirts, tight corsets and lots of lace and crochets. Then you can assist to a surreal conversation where the models are wearing merchant uniforms, aristocratic outfits and the classical patricians' and magistrates' gown. Every garment presents heavy embroidery and laceworks.
The last room honours the taste for waistcoasts of the Venice wealthy bourgeoisie. Fifty of them are displayed here and, as the tagline reports: "a waistcoat was worn under the jacket; the front was usually made of silk and the back of linen or cotton".