NEW YORK – A new art museum dedicated to all things dog was getting ready to open, or rather reopen, its doors to the public in New York after over 30 years away.
Paintings from the 19th century, movie posters for films in which pets take the lead roles and a screen telling you which breed of dog you look most like would be some of the attractions at the American Kennel Club’s Museum of the Dog when it opens on Feb. 8.
“For all dog lovers or dog people, the American Kennel Club has a lot of people who are involved with dogs and dog breeding, but this is for the entire population who comes to New York,” the center’s executive director, Alan Fausel, told EFE of the new space.
According to Fausel, it is actually more of a reopening as the museum originally opened in Manhattan in 1982, but was relocated to Saint Louis, Missouri between 1986-2017.
The museum, a celebration of canine-themed art, is back in New York to stay, according to Fausel, after the AKC moved to a new Manhattan location with more space than before. It now has large exhibition rooms and a library with 15,000 volumes dedicated to canines.
“This move provides an opportune moment for the Museum to reimagine itself and present its treasures to a far larger audience in one of the greatest cultural capitals in the world,” the AKC said on its website.
Fausel said in Saint Louis the museum had been out of the city and did not attract many visitors, but within the new AKC offices, there had been an opportunity to bring the attraction back to the Big Apple.
An 1896 portrait of a St. Bernard by British-American painter Maud Earl is one of the museum staff’s favorites, according to Fausel.
The piece depicts the work these animals do high up in the Alps, he said, although the dog featured in the painting, known as “Fradley Stephanie,” never left the British Isles.
Other highlights were works by British painter Edwin Herny Landseer (1802-73), who was well known for painting animals.
Millie, former United States President George Bush and his wife Barbara’s Springer Spaniel, was also immortalized in a 1990 portrait set in the grounds outside the White House.
The presidential pooch shot to fame in a book called “Millie’s Book,” written by the then First Lady, detailing life at the White House.
“We do have some contemporary things here and we also have a dog fossil that’s 30 million years old,” said Fausel.
Besides artworks from the so-called golden age of dog painting (between 1840-1940, according to Fausel), the space also houses photographs, sculptures and film posters for movies featuring dogs, like “Lassie” and “Babe,” the pig that was raised by sheepdogs.
The skeleton of Belgrave Joe, a Fox Terrier that died in 1888, is another of the artefacts on display at the museum that, for the moment, does not allow entry to dogs.
The museum also has six interactive screens showing information about dog training and other topics, as well as two tables where visitors can access information about 193 AKC accepted breeds.
“With hundreds of pieces of artwork and digital displays, there will be no shortage of dog-inspired artwork to admire,” the museum said on its site.