Theses Master's

Putting Smell in Its Place: The Categorization of Odor Preservation Projects

Clevenger, Justin

Preservationists, starting in the late twentieth century, have put the idea to practice that the smell of an object, place, event, or person can be worthy of preservation and considered culturally significant. This is a recent shift in a discipline that was previously focused on physical objects such as buildings, monuments, and art as the only entities that were considered to be worthy of preservation. Preservation theory therefore developed theories of authenticity that do not capture or are unable to judge smell. This thesis will fill an important gap in the heritage discourse by providing a critical framework for judging the level of authenticity in olfactory preservation projects. I examined key examples of scent preservation including Colonial Williamsburg (1926), the Dennis Severs House (1999), the Japanese Ministry for the Environment’s 100 Most Fragrant Landscapes List (2001), and my own Morgan Library Odor Recreation (2017). I provide an analytical framework for judging the level of authenticity of smell preservation projects, consisting of eight categories including sourcing, significance, fabrication, location, intention, duration, evidence, and aesthetics. While each of the aforementioned case studies utilize odors in some manner, each of them does so very differently with a different intent. In every instance where case studies have been analyzed and historical records have been created no one has attempted to categorize them. The intent of this thesis is to arrive at such a framework through the analysis of key olfactory preservation projects by providing a framework for judgement. I hope to provide a theoretical foundation for future practices in management, design, and interpretation of odor preservation projects.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Otero-Pailos, Jorge
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
September 25, 2018