Discover the KattenKabinet: Amsterdam’s Museum Devoted to Works of Art Featuring Cats

Image by T_Marjorie, via Flickr Com­mons

There’s been quite a bit of bark­ing in the media late­ly to her­ald the reopen­ing of the Amer­i­can Ken­nel Club Muse­um of the Dog, relo­cat­ing from St. Louis to New York City’s Park Avenue.

What’s a cat per­son to do?

Per­haps decom­press with­in Amsterdam’s Kat­tenK­abi­net

In con­trast to the Muse­um of the Dog’s glitzy, glass-front­ed HQ, the Cat Cab­i­net main­tains a fair­ly low pro­file inside a 17th-cen­tu­ry canal house. (Sev­er­al vis­i­tors have not­ed in their Trip Advi­sor reviews that the 3‑room museum’s grand envi­rons help jus­ti­fy the €7  admis­sion.)

The Muse­um of the Dog’s high­ly tot­ed “dig­i­tal expe­ri­ences”  and redesigned atri­um sug­gest a cer­tain eager­ness to estab­lish itself as a major 21st-cen­tu­ry insti­tu­tion.

The Kat­tenK­abi­net is more of a stealth oper­a­tion, cre­at­ed as an homage to one J.P. Mor­gan, a dear­ly depart­ed gin­ger tom, who lived upstairs with his own­er.

The inau­gur­al col­lec­tion took shape around presents the for­mi­da­ble Mor­gan received dur­ing his 17 years on earth—paintings, a bronze cat stat­ue, and a fac­sim­i­le of a dol­lar bill fea­tur­ing his like­ness and the mot­to, “We Trust No Dog.”

In spir­it, the Kabi­net hews close­ly to America’s eclec­tic (and fast dis­ap­pear­ing) road­side muse­ums.

No apps, no inter­ac­tive kiosks, a stolid­ly old fash­ioned approach when it comes to dis­play…

It does have a gift shop, where one can pur­chase logo t‑shirts fea­tur­ing an extreme­ly cat-like spec­i­men, viewed from the rear, tail aloft.

While the KattenKabinet’s hold­ings include some mar­quee names—Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Rembrandt—there’s some­thing com­pelling about the collection’s less well known artists, many of whom embraced the museum’s pet sub­ject again and again.

Muse­um founder Bob Mei­jer rewards vir­tu­al vis­i­tors with some juicy bio­graph­i­cal tid­bits about his artists, cat-relat­ed and oth­er­wise. Take, for exam­ple, Leonor Fini, whose Ubu glow­ers below:

Fini had a three-way rela­tion­ship with the Ital­ian diplo­mat-cum-artist Stanis­lao LeP­ri, who, like Fini, was dif­fi­cult to pin into a cer­tain style, and the Pol­ish lit­er­ary writer Con­stan­tin Jelen­s­ki. The two men were not, how­ev­er, her only house­mates: Fini had dozens of Per­sian cats around her. Indoors you rarely see a pho­to of her with­out a cat in her arms. In the Cat Cab­i­net you can find many of her works, from cheer­ful­ly col­ored cats to high­ly detailed por­traits of cats. The women depict­ed in the paint­ings have that icon­ic mys­tique char­ac­ter­is­tic of Fini’s work.

Tsug­uharu Fou­ji­ta, whose work is a sta­ple of the muse­um, is anoth­er cat-lov­ing-artist-turned-art-him­self, by virtue of Dora Kalmus’ 1927 por­trait, above.

Hil­do Krop is well rep­re­sent­ed through­out Ams­ter­dam, his sculp­tures adorn­ing bridges and build­ings. Two Cats Mak­ing Love, on view at the Kabi­net, is, Mei­jer com­ments,” clear­ly one of his small­er projects and prob­a­bly falls into the cat­e­go­ry of “free work.” One of his most famous works, and of a dif­fer­ent order of mag­ni­tude, is the Berlage mon­u­ment on Vic­to­rieplein in Ams­ter­dam.”

In addi­tion to fine art, the Kabi­net show­cas­es oth­er feline appearances—in vin­tage adver­tis­ing, Tadaa­ki Nar­i­ta’s Lucky cat pin­ball machine, and in the per­son, er, form of 5 live spec­i­mens who have the run of the place.

Those vis­it­ing in the flesh can cat around to some of Amsterdam’s oth­er feline-themed attrac­tions, includ­ing two cat cafes, a cat-cen­tric bou­tique, and the float­ing shel­ter, De Poezen­boot.

And let’s not for­get the oth­er cat muse­ums ‘round the globe, from Min­sk and Malaysia to Syl­va, North Carolina’s Amer­i­can Muse­um of the House Cat.

Begin your explo­ration of the col­lec­tion here.

via the BBC

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Two Cats Keep Try­ing to Get Into a Japan­ese Art Muse­um … and Keep Get­ting Turned Away: Meet the Thwart­ed Felines, Ken-chan and Go-chan

An Ani­mat­ed His­to­ry of Cats: How Over 10,000 Years the Cat Went from Wild Preda­tor to Sofa Side­kick

Edward Gorey Talks About His Love Cats & More in the Ani­mat­ed Series, “Goreytelling”

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her in New York City for the next install­ment of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain, this March. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.E

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