The Storp family, which founded drom fragrancesin 1911 in Munich, Germany, has amassed a rare and very important collection of flacons and perfume bottlesover the generations – a collection that today includes more than three thousand pieces spanning six thousand years of history.

Now, thanks to a long-term loan, a significant selection of these items is featured in a brand-new exhibition about the history of perfume and essence that is being housed in the renovated Museum of Palazzo Mocenigo in Venice – Study Center for the History of Fabrics and Costumes. This exhibition has been created in collaboration with MAVIVEand with the support of drom, the famous German perfume company.

To deepen and broaden this interesting topic, a selection of over a hundred more piecesfrom the Storp collection – unique in terms of their rarity and beauty – will be on display in the entrance hall on the ground floor of Palazzo Mocenigo di San Stae from September 6, 2014 to January 6, 2015.

Curated by Chiara Squarcinaand under the scientific direction of Gabriella Belli, the exhibition organized in collaboration with the team at drom fragrancesis a new platform on which to showcase and explain the technical virtuosityand creative craftsmanshipthat has developed over time when it comes to producing vessels to contain perfume, from antiquity to the present day.

True pieces of artwork, these small but precious containers – original and exclusive– celebrate an ancient art form that spread across the Middle East before arriving in Greece and Rome.

The word “perfume,” from the Latin per fumum (which literally means “through smoke”) originally referred to two functions: religious and secular.

The first perfumes were aromas such as incense that were burned as an offering to gods and ancestors. This art form, which also entered Asia through the activities of Arab traders, experienced a renaissance in Europe during the Crusades, thus also reaching Venice.

The fundamental role of the lagoon city in the emergence of this aesthetic tradition, rooted in the cosmetics trade, is the subject of the new section of the museum dedicated to perfume. This exhibition is a valuable collection that acknowledges the importance of a manufacturing culture in Venice, that is of great historical significance although it may be considered “minor.”

Perfume flacons have led to the evolution of the art of perfumery thanks to the ingenuity and creativity of those who brought them into being. Presented in illuminated display cases in the magical setting of Palazzo Mocenigo, the pieces are showcased in all their fascinating modernity.

The collection ranges from extremely rare antique pieces such as a terracotta Egyptian oil jar from the third or second century BC, glass flacons and cases, porcelain, and biscuits dating from the 16th to 19th century to an extraordinary satin glass bottle designed by Salvador Dali and the most famous noteworthy creations by today’s major perfume and essence companies.

Divided into four main sectionsrepresenting all eras, the exhibition evokes emotions that are forgotten, unknown, or too often buried in the collective memory.

Drom fragrances has commissioned seven of their well-known perfumersto create fragrances, that serve as olfactory allegories dedicated to the themes of the divine, loveand protection.

In each of those three sections, visitors can therefore smell fragrances interpreted by an emblematic flacon chosen to symbolize the given theme.

The Divine

This section presents some exceptional pieces from antiquity and the preclassical era, illustrated using well-known mythological figures – a source of inspiration for the most successful perfume brands and an allegory of angels, cherubs, and putti.


This section presents the most classic and essential subject from the Enlightenment to the present day. Especially during the Age of Reason, perfumes and their containers become “accomplices” of seduction, the language of love, and gallantry. During the industrial revolution in the mid-nineteenth century, rival brands competed to come up with ways to portray love, continuing to this day, where it resonates with all its past incarnations.

Visitors have the rare privilege of discovering the best pieces of the Worthperfume brand, which tell the exciting story of love in its most poetic form.


The increasing spread of Christianity in the Middle Ages marked a decrease in the use of secular scents in the West. People were afraid of drinking water and the possibility of an epidemic: perfumes therefore became a protective elixirfor medicinal use. Meanwhile, containers made from precious materials were worn as decorative jewellery, for instance on belts and as pendants.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, new interpretations of the theme continued to develop, moving away from the original meaning and becoming a symbolic illustrationthat was either darker or, in some cases, more frivolous.


Perfumes and their containers became the most obvious way for people to express their individuality. With the development of niche perfumery, both the expression of individual personalityand the desire to stand out from the crowd became fashionable in the late eighteenth century. At this time, a display case known as “The cave à parfums” allowed people to mix their own perfumes in the privacy of their living room. This trend continued into the twentieth century and led to the emergence of perfumes linked to designer companies. Paul Poiretwas the forerunner of this new genre, creating a fragrance as an accessory to complement his fashion collection. In the 80s, jewellers also began to find ways to accommodate the new demand for individual style in their creations.

In a display dedicated to Elsa Schiaparelli, visitors can discover how the sublimation of pain can open the door to creativity and success. Following the suffering she endured as a child, Elsa was able to offer her customers a bold and utopian vision of beauty.

As “fragile” witnesses to the history of human costumes, the precious works in the Storp collection that make up the exhibition Little Big Thingswill certainly fascinate visitors with their evocative power of inspiration.

Palazzo Mocenigo

Santa Croce, 1992
Venice 30135 Italy
Ph. +39 041 721798

Opening hours

Tuesday - Sunday from 10.00am to 5.00pm
Ticket office from 10.00am to 4.30pm

Related images
  1. Pomander Memento mori, Pomander in argento a forma di teschio usato come pendente, Germania, Cinquecento/Seicento, Altezza: 35 mm
  2. Flacone con astuccio, Flacone in cristallo di Baccarat transparente con tappo laccato oro a forma di sole dallo sguardo melanconico disegnato da Salvador Dali per il profumo “Le Roy Soleil” di Elsa Schiaparelli, Francia, 1946, Altezza: 16 cm flacone / 22,5 cm astuccio
  3. Vinegrette, Spugnetta recipient portaprofumo con asola da usare come pendente, sul lato anteriore testa femminile in porcellana, con mascherina nera e due pietre di vetro al posto degli occhi Germanio, metà Settecento, Altezza: 45 mm
  4. Flacone pendente, Flacone oro con una enorme perla barocca e pietre preziose, Italia, Settecento, Altezza: 80 mm
  5. Flacone con confezione originale, Flacone sferico in cristallo incolore smaltato blu e costellato di stelle in trasparenza, tappo smerigliato a forma didisco che presenta una falce di luna crescente da René Lalique per il profumo “Dans la nuit” di Jean-Philippe Worth, Francia, 1924, Altezza: 80 mm
  6. Composizione portaprofumi, Formata da due gusci di vetro, montatura in ottone su basamento onice, Francia o Inghilterra , 1870, Altezza:16 cm