Museum of the Dog takes Manhattan
Museum of the Dog takes Manhattan President George W. Bush and Laura Bush with their dog Barney. (Official White House photo/American Kennel Club/David Woo)
Museum of the Dog takes Manhattan
Lexile: 470L

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Serious critics tend to dismiss dog-related art. They say it is too kitschy. They say it is sentimental. But there is a newly rebooted museum. It is the Museum of the Dog. It is not trying to go head-to-head with MoMA. It is using its 200-item collection. It puts the dog/human and dog/art relationship in context. It just made its return to the American Kennel Club's headquarters. That is in Manhattan. This comes after three decades in suburban St. Louis.

There are many highlights at the Museum of the Dog. They include a 30-million-year-old dog fossil. And a terracotta paw print. It was found in a Roman archaeological dig. The collection also includes a Victorian-era cart. It was for children pulled by dogs. There is an Edwardian dog house. It was designed for a Chihuahua. This is according to per Amanda Morris. She works at NPR.

The museum also presents famous dogs throughout history. This includes Edward VII's wire fox terrier. The dog’s name was Caesar. The dog was part of the king’s funeral procession. That was in 1910. Likenesses of U.S. presidents also made the cut. There are paintings of George H.W. Bush’s English springer spaniel. Her name was Millie. George W. Bush’s Scottish terriers are featured. Their names were Barney and Miss Beazley. The museum has long had the approval of a former First Lady. That is First Lady Barbara Bush. She praised the museum. That was in in a 1990 letter. That's according to Jennifer Peltz. She was reporting for the Associated Press.

Artist William Wegman is well known for his Weimaraner muses. They are also on view. 

There is a case dedicated to Smoky. Smoky was a Yorkshire terrier. The dog crawled through a pipe. That was in Luzon. That was during World War II. Smokey helped to reestablish communication between American units. Smoky also served as a therapy dog. He helped the wounded in the Pacific. You can also pay your respects to the remains of Belgrave Joe. This dog was a Fox Terrier. He more or less set the standard for the breed.

The American Kennel Club sets the standard for dog breeds in the U.S. So it’s no wonder the crown jewel of its museum is a 42,000-volume library on dogs and specific breeds. The museum also includes a digital encyclopedia of dog breeds. And there is a kiosk. It matches people to dogs. It is based on how they look. There is also a gallery. It explores dogs in popular culture.

Purebred dog breeding has undergone its share of criticism in recent years. The museum hopes to put its work in context. That's according to Alan Fausel. He is the executive director. “It’s learning why they were purposely bred for certain jobs, and their activities and their attributes.”

Bree Driscoll works at NY1. She reports that the museum originally opened in New York. That was in 1982. It was to be part of the American Kennel Club’s offices. The club decided to relocate the museum. It moved to Jarville House. It is a mansion in Queeny Park. That is in West St. Louis. It moved due to a lack of financial support. And due to a lack of space. But the more remote spot had trouble attracting people.

The museum received just 10,000 visitors last year. That's according to Peltz at the AP. The American Kennel Club has more ambitious plans for its new doghouse. It is located at 101 Park Avenue. It hopes to attract 80,000 to 100,000 visitors this year. With the exception of service animals, those museum-goers will all be two-legged. That's because the museum does not allow dogs.

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