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‘Connection with the past’: AI to find and preserve Europe’s historical smells

Scent-enriched tours will be accessible to blind and visually impaired people in a way entirely visual exhibitions can never be. Image credit - Battlecreek Coffee Roasters / Unsplash

The psychological powers of smell

There's no sense quite like smell to trigger an emotional response. One whiff of a damp basement, a dusty blanket, a ripe strawberry, or a steaming bowl of pasta can instantly evoke feelings and memories that have their roots in the distant past. Yet when it comes to learning about bygone times, we barely give a thought to the vapours that once prevailed – galleries and museums are the domain of artworks that appeal to our sense of sight, rarely reminding us of how things smelled – fragrant or foul – when our forebears walked the earth.

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