Few creatures are as universally beloved as the dog – and, especially for those of us who are lucky enough to have one as a best friend, they’re endlessly fascinating beasts. If you’re one of the many like me who find yourself enthusiastically greeting nearly every dog that crosses your path, you owe it to yourself to visit the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog next time you find yourself in Murray Hill in Manhattan.
The Museum of the Dog was originally founded in 1982, in part to showcase the American Kennel Club’s existing collection of paintings, prints, drawings, and sculptures of pooches that spanned over a century and is one of the largest in the world. Though the museum moved for 32 years to St. Louis, Missouri, it moved back to New York City in 2019 and kicked off its return with an exhibition entitled “For The Love of All Things Dog.” It’s fascinating to see how our furry friends inspired people across decades to try to capture what makes them so special. Some works are goofy and playful, some are somber and soulful, and some are portraits that celebrate the relationship between human and canine, with the dog sitting faithfully by their human companion. One of my favorite things there was analyzing the different ways the artists captured dog’s expressions and the stories they were telling with their relationship to the rest of the artwork. You’ll find artists like English painter Edwin Landseer, whose works can also be found in Tate Britain, Maud Earl, a British painter specializing in dogs whose clients included Queens Alexandria and Victoria, and Arthus Wardle, one of the 19th and 20th century’s best know painters of canines.
The store is full of great gifts for the pooch aficionado in your life, and on the second floor there is a lovely little library and learning/play space for children. While I was there, artist Johanne Mangi was teaching a class to paint one of the museum’s sculptures, DOGNY Search and Rescue Dog Statue by Robert Braun. There’s a neat table display where you can learn more about different breeds of dogs, and unfortunately I missed it but apparently there’s even a kiosk that takes your photo and tells you what dog you resemble most.
The entry fee to the museum is modest: $15 for adults, $10 for students, veterans, and seniors, and $5 for children under 12. A portion of the proceeds go to AKC’s various programs to help rescue dogs and find homes for them, and provide outreach and education about responsible dog ownership. Consisting of two floors, it’s not an enormous museum, so depending on how long you take in displays and how many exhibits you read you’ll probably be finished in 1-2 hours, but it’s worth spending a little extra time to really absorb all the artwork. It nothing else, it will help you further appreciate how dogs have worked and played beside us for centuries, and how they’ve always held a special place in our hearts.
Matthew Christopher NY New York Nov 16, 2021 Visual Arts