Aftel Archive of Curious Scents

Aftel Archive of Curious Scents

Welcome to the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents
Buy Tickets to Aftel Archive

Come smell, touch, read, imagine! Immerse yourself in beauty, slip into a world apart, a lost past. If only for an hour, allow yourself to step outside of time. Learn and experience the history of fragrance. Every item in the Archive is authentic and original, including the hand-tinted postcards and engravings, some of which date back four hundred years.

Archive ExhibitsA Selection of Exhibits I fell in love with natural aromatics more than twenty-five years ago, and I have had the privilege to live and work in their world ever since. In my practice of perfumery, I have curated thousands of gorgeous essences from all over the world, many of them antiques themselves. They are all part of the extraordinary lineage of scent that reaches back to the beginnings of human culture and is entwined with the earliest history of medicine, cuisine, sexuality, adornment, and worship.

At the same time, my research and writing led me on a treasure hunt to hundreds of antique books and other artifacts that helped me to piece together the world in which perfumery took shape. I came to see my practice as an extension of the lost world I had discovered into the modern one. The books, engravings, essences, and raw materials I have collected have been a source of endless beauty and fascination and happiness to me, and I continue to be inspired by them every day. Cabinet of CuriositiesCabinet of Curiosities

Perfume OrganPerfume Organ At the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents you can smell more than three hundred natural essences derived from fruits, flowers, trees, grasses, and other natural sources (and take three samples home). Touch and smell the raw botanical materials that become perfume essences.Compare essences that have been aged for a century to their modern counterparts. Pore over more than fifty antique books from my collection, retracing the amazing history of fragrance.

NY Times

"The Aftel Archive of Curious Scents is not just the first museum in the U.S. dedicated to perfume, but more beguilingly, the first one dedicated to the experience of fragrance. This tiny museum manages to contain the olfactory history of the world: hundreds of natural essences, raw ingredients and antique tinctures gathered from every corner of the globe, and all available for visitors to smell."
Click for
full article & gorgeous slide show!

Apothecary DrawersAntique Drawers of Botanical Materials

Vogue article
Papier-mâché Musk Deer

"For the past 20-some years, Aftel has quietly championed natural fragrances amid a glut of market-driven synthetics, creating small-batch perfumes with similarly remarkable notes out of her studio in Berkeley, California. She has opened the doors to her process with the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents, a new jewel-box museum inside a cottage on their property. It’s a portal to another, intriguing time."
Click to read
Vogue's 5 highlights from the Archive!

Click for a video tour of Mandy showing you all the Archive exhibits!

Buy Tickets to Aftel Archive

Open only on Saturdays 10 am - 6 pm.
Tickets are $20 for a 1-hour time slot.
Tickets include 3 letter-press scent strips to dip in essences and take home.

Cottage at end of brick driveway,
1518-1/2 Walnut St. Berkeley, CA 94709
Phone: 510-841-2111 Email:

Archive photos by Joel Bernstein

Letterpress Scent Strips