Home News A fragrant addition to the Huguenot Museum

A fragrant addition to the Huguenot Museum


The South African Perfume Museum – the only one of its kind in Africa – was established six years ago in Cape Town by the Kumanov family who trace their involvement in perfumery back to Kuman Kumanov in 1640. In April 2018 the Museum, under the direction of Daniela and Dimo Kumanov, relocated to the former tearoom in the grounds of the Huguenot Museum.

At the museum visitors can explore an extensive permanent collection, including antique masterpieces, illustrating the long history of perfumery.

The Egyptians were using perfumes as long ago as 10 000 BC and were followed by the ancient Chinese, Hindus, Israelites, Carthaginians, Arabs, Greeks and Romans. The word ‘perfume’ derives from the Latin per fume, meaning ‘through smoke’. This is because the oldest use of perfume was the burning of incense and aromatic herbs and gums in religious services. The word ‘cosmetics’ also originates from Latin – cosmetae were Roman slaves whose function was to bathe men and women in perfume.

The Kumanovs say, “The mission of our museum is to act as a bridge between the rich heritage of the perfume world – as embodied in the permanent collection – and the unique experience of each visitor. The result is a welcoming place of learning through the art of perfumery.”

Together, the Kumanovs and their talented perfumers have created bespoke scents for several South African designers and a number of TV channels, including:  E! Pop of Culture, Studio Universal, Style, Telemundo and the Universal channel.

Kumanov Cosmetics also offers one to three-hour private perfumery workshops for individuals or groups. Up to 10 persons can be accommodated and it’s not for ladies only!

Perfume Prive Workshops begin with a brief history of perfume and perfumery; guiding attendees through various base notes and perfume composition. Then attendees choose original perfume oils imported from Grasse, France, as the components of their own one-of-a-kind scent. The formula is then recorded and used to create a complementing cream while attendees decide on what to name their fragrances.

There is little doubt that both locals and visitors will find a visit to the South African Perfume Museum a ‘scentsational’ experience.