Chatham Passage – Indianapolis, Indiana - Atlas Obscura

Chatham Passage

This multisensory alley has the ability to remind bustling citygoers to stop and smell the roses. 


Since 2010, those in Indianapolis have been able to stroll through a sensory experience in Chatham Passage. Nestled between two of the city’s favorite gay clubs, the alleyway art installation consists of a sunken vault covered by a lace-like steel grate, from which the smell of roses wafts into the air.

Chatham Passage is the work of the conceptual artist Sean Derry. Many of his projects are built to connect the past and present of the sites on which they are built. The luxurious scent and elaborate grate are a nod to the former Real Silk Hosier Mill, once located nearby. The vault is also reminiscent of the coal vaults that once serviced many of the surrounding buildings. 

Those exploring the Mass Ave Arts District in Indianapolis can pop down the alley and stand directly over the vault to enjoy the smell of roses along with a mini light show, as a shimmering LED light display escapes through the grate. It’s an art installation that will have visitors trading in their rose-colored glasses for rose-scented alleyways in an instant.

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