From our friend in Barcelona: perfume and shoes

In her final report from Barcelona Kavel Rafferty visits two little museums.

You could walk past the Museu del Perfum hundreds of times without noticing it, which since 1961 has been situated in the back room of the Perfumery Regina on the busy Passeig de Gracia in central Barcelona.
Entrance is through the shop, via a short corridor leads to the exhibition room which is large and understated, a large room filled with hessian backed glass cabinets. Cabinets are packed with every type of perfume and scent bottle imaginable. There are fine examples of both antiquarian perfume vessels and hundreds of bottles charting the development of brand identities of major designers and perfume producers.
The collection consists of over 5,000 individual bottles, from large scale advertising props, 'on tap' perfume dispensers used in old perfume boutiques and tiny sample bottles. 
And then there’s the decoration: gilded fonts, candy colours, pattern, jewels, ribbon, bows, packaging and printed papers. All delightful in their own way.
A few of my favourites were the more kitsch novelty bottles: a vintage green telephone; fancy frocked ladies in all their finery; silver birds and strangely gruesome glass heads. 
There is a five euro entry fee, which is well worth it for the sheer volume of examples. The staff leave you alone to wander around without pressure in a gallery or museum. You can easily lose an hour or more examining all the different bottles.
Museu del Perfum, Passeig de Gràcia, 39
Monday to Friday: 10.30am-8pm; Saturday: 11am-2pm

The gentleman on the door of 

Museu del Calçat, a

 one-room shoe museum, must be well into his eighties, but he’s very sprightly and friendly. He offers a selection of small scribbled notes with various dates for each cabinet, which don’t always make things much clearer. I sneaked a few photos although photography is not strictly allowed – he gently told me off, but I don't mind as he called me señorita, that hasn't happened in a long while.

The collection contains many originals dating as far back as the 17th century as well as reproductions of earlier footwear. The collection includes tools, patterns, leather samples, illustrations, all kinds of shoes large and small from around the world. It's no V&A, but has some lovely exhibits and while slightly shabby is utterly charming. The tiniest 'shoes' in the collection are a pair carved from two olive stones, the biggest (with the accompanying last) made especially to fit the Columbus statue in Barcelona Harbour. Other unusual footwear includes black bridal shoes, peculiar to Cataluña, jewel-encrusted heels for dance shoes and intricately embroidered white leather children's shoes.

Museu del Calçat, Plaça Sant Felip Neri 5
Tuesday-Sunday: 11am-2pm

You can see Kavel's illustration work on her website.
And for more Barcelona, don't forget to pick up our map.

Posted in Barcelona, Illustration, Kavel Rafferty, Museums

Herb visits… Pitt Rivers

Let us give thanks to Lieutenant-General Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt Rivers, whose formidable passion for archaeology and ethnology resulted in the core collection of the museum which bears his name.

Housed in a beautiful Victorian structure which sits at the end of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, the Pitt Rivers is strange and wonderful. Elegant glass cases are packed with exhibits of varying provenance and vintage – musical instruments, masks, toys, clothes, weapons, coins. Drawers beneath the cases, some of which can be opened by visitors, are jammed with still more objects. The visitor is overwhelmed. The room is dark, totem poles loom; canoes, spears, paddles are suspended from the ceilings.

The collection rambles over three floors, each packed with yet more exhibits delivering a fresh sense of wonder and a different perspective on the peculiarities, idiosyncrasies and similarities of all humankind.

Pitt Rivers Museum, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PW

Posted in England, Museums, UK

Herb visits… Busy Beaver Button Museum

At Busy Beaver they don't just make buttons* in their milions - round, square, metallic, oval - they love them too. Such is their devotion that the company's beautiful new building now houses its own button museum.

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Posted in Chicago, Museums, USA

Herb visits… The Museum of Everything

In an old dairy tucked away off a side street in Primrose Hill are displayed some of Peter Blake’s many collections: circus posters, freak show postcards, dolls and taxidermy tableaux. It is a curious selection, some of which might be creepy were it not for the good-natured enthusiasm of the whole endeavour. Blake’s cheerful captions describe the work on show, and offer an insight into his collecting habits, which seem opportunistic rather than obsessive, a happy accumulator of wondrous objects rather than a grim completist. 

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Posted in Independent, London, Museums, UK

Herb visits… Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature


Faintly sinister but hugely seductive, this unlikely museum is dedicated to the slaughter and subsequent preservation or consumption of animals: what we call hunting, and the French know rather more romantically as La Chasse.

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Posted in France, Museums, Paris


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