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Scent from Nature: Beauty’s botanical origins

Following the Government announcement yesterday, museums and galleries in Cambridge will be closed to the public as part of a period of national/local restrictions. So, with great sadness, we will not be able to reopen as planned on 2 January 2021.

The healing and medicinal properties of plants have long been recorded in ancient and early modern herbals. Containing some of the earliest examples of botanical illustration, the herbals reveal much about the resins, juices and colours that could be extracted from plants, along with recipes on how to mix, consume and apply them. This was useful not only for medicine, but for the beauty and fragrance industry as well.

Through the Museum’s exceptional collection of botanical watercolours, including depictions of the Iris germanica, Rosa damascena, Pelargonium graveolens and Rosa canina, this exhibition explores plant-based fragrance, skincare and cosmetics, and features perfume bottles and cosmetic boxes from the wider collection.

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