The American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog opens Feb. 8 in midtown Manhattan, returning to New York after three decades on the outskirts of St. Louis. (Jan. 11)
Portraits of puppers line the walls of the Museum of the Dog, as you would expect.
These are not your average pets. Not just any doggy qualifies for an oil painting. These are pampered purebreds, from modern times and from centuries past, all beloved by their wealthy human companions.
After 32 years in St. Louis, the American Kennel Club’s Museum of the Dog has moved back to New York. The new location is at 101 Park Ave., between 40th and 41st streets.
The paintings in the current exhibition are from the extensive art collection of the American Kennel Club, known for its appreciation of the beauty of purebreds. But this attention to standards and detail in real dogs can sometimes muzzle a dog lover’s appreciation for art.
Alan Fausel, director of the museum, said he sometimes finds AKC members scrutinizing a painting and judging the subject by breed standards, rather than on artistic merit.
“The artist’s job is to show life through a different prism,” Fausel said.
Visitors to the museum will be able to look at dogs through a different prism as well. The museum houses several hundred paintings, drawings, watercolors, prints, sculptures, bronzes, porcelain figurines, decorative arts objects and interactive displays depicting dogs throughout the ages.
Some of these works of art can feel remote, especially if you love dogs for their goofiness and enthusiasm, rather than for their noble good looks. Yet when you come across the museum’s ancient paw print, preserved in terra cotta since the days of the Roman Empire, it will feel as familiar to you as your own pet’s muddy paw prints.
The heroism of dogs also is represented, notably by artifacts from the life of a Yorkshire terrier who served as a morale booster for Allied troops during World War II.
Among the digital elements at the museum is an interactive screen display that lets you have a go at training a virtual Labrador named Molly. By using vocal commands and gestures, you can teach Molly to stay or come, and you can even toss a toy for her to catch.
But, as with a real dog, you have to get into it. Molly responds best to the uninhibited visitor, someone with a clear, loud voice. And it doesn’t hurt to use a little baby talk either. “Who’s a good girl, Molly?!” Watch that virtual tail wag.
A well-stocked library will help scholarly research on dogs. Plenty of storybooks about dogs will appeal to young visitors.
Admission is $15, $5 for children under 5, $10 for senior citizens, students, veterans and active members of the military. For hours and more info, call 212-696-8235 or go to museumofthedog.org.
There’s now a Tinder for finding the dog of your dreams. Buzz60’s Tony Spitz has the details.
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