Dog lovers of the highest order, we found a museum that oozes everything canine-related in the art world. The American Kennel Club’s Museum of the Dog officially opened its doggy doors in New York City on Friday, February 8, 2019.
Fidose of Reality received a guided tour of the Museum of the Dog on Monday, February 11, the same time as the official Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Here’s what we sniffed out, discovered, uncovered, and why you need to visit this treasure trove of dogdom in person.
Museum Of The Dog Location and History
The Museum of the Dog makes its return to New York City after spending close to 30 years in St. Louis, Missouri. With over $4.5 million dollars poured into the museum by the AKC, it boats one of the largest collections of dog art in the world.
Located at 101 Park Avenue in Manhattan, one block from Grand Central Terminal, we took a taxi cab from the Piers where the daytime judging and benching took place at the dog show.
Digging Up Dirt With The Dog Museum Director
Fidose of Reality received a guided tour of the museum from Alan Fausel, its executive director, before becoming fangirls and obsessing over the paintings, sculptures, six interactive displays, gift shop, library, and more. Yes, we said gift shop and library. Keep reading.
Fausel reports over 1,000 press clippings on the day we visited, so the media is definitely sitting up and wagging its collective tails for this groundbreaking museum. The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS News, and more had all been to visit.
The only thing you won’t find in the 11,000 square foot, two-floor museum is a real dog, unless they are a trained service animal. The museum is located within an office building which does not allow pets inside. There are other pet-welcoming smaller galleries in the city, but the official Museum of the Dog does not allow them. My dog stayed behind with my wife so that I could immerse myself in all things dog culture.
The only negative, Fausel says, “Not all breeds are represented in the museum.”
They plan to rotate the paintings and have something to satisfy everyone. For those who can’t get their breed-specific fix on the day of visit, consider the Meet The Breeds interactive tables (there are two) for multiple users of the library.
What To Know Before You Go
App: I’m one of those dog moms who loves to see art, understand it, study it, and really try to appreciate it and what the artist had in mind when painting it. Thank dog for the Museum of the Dog free app, which allows visitors to learn what the arf art is all about. Hold your app to the art and wha-la, instant culture with details about the piece.
How Long To Allow: It depends on your reason for attending. I would have spent half a day there or more if time allowed. I had other items on my agenda, so my assistant and I stayed at least three hours. If you like to learn, read, take your time, enjoy the museum and all of its interactive displays, a solid two to four hours should suffice. Wear comfortable shoes.
Specifics: The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to its website. Adult tickets are $15, with $5 tickets for children and discounts for seniors, students, active military and veterans.
Gift Store: The gift store is small but brimming with souvenirs from shirts to books, purses to stuffed animals of various dog breeds. I am told the store’s merchandise is growing. (we will be back for that).
Photography: This is allowed and you are encouraged to share and tag the museum on social media.
Famous Dog Paintings And More
You don’t need to be the rich, famous, or most cultured of art connoisseurs (I am none of the aforementioned) to enjoy the massive collection on display at the Museum of the Dog.
Here are some of our favorite highlights followed by a video montage.
Millie the Dog
Hand-painted by Christine Merrill in 1990, this gorgeous painting features George H.W. and Barbara Bush’s dog, Millie. Next to the painting is an actual letter from Barbara Bush which is seen below. Millie was an English Springer Spaniel who was born January 12, 1985 and died May 19, 1997.
Skeleton of Belgrave Joe
The note next to this amazing skeleton reads:
Upon his death at 20 years old, Belgrave Joe was preserved by his owner, Luke Turner. Fittingly so, as he is now regarded as the foundation dog of the modern Fox Terrier, both wire- and smooth-terrier. It is said that before Belgrave Joe there were terriers who hunted foxes and after him, there were officially “Fox Terriers”
After the death of Turner, Belgrave Joe’s skeleton was first displayed at the Kennel Club in London before transfer to the Royal Veterinary College. A young American anatomy student found the important specimen nearly forgotten in a storage closet and contacted dog fancier Irving V. Ackerman, who arranged for his remounting and Transatlantic Journey to more appreciative pastures. Ackerman donated Belgrave Joe to the AKC in the mid-to-late 1930s, around the time of the AKC Library’s founding.
Over 3,000 books and dog-related publications are housed in the library section of the museum. We spent considerable time here exploring books of the Cocker Spaniel. Of course, there are many more, and if you love learning and possibly even looking up lineage, this library is a real treat.
This oil on canvas draws you in. I felt visibly moved seeing this dog pining so longingly for his owner. Caesar the dog was owned by King Edward VII of England, and was considered his favorite dog. He loved the dog so very much that Caesar was a part of his funeral procession, per the King’s orders. Notice as the chair fades into the background, much like the King did from Caesar’s life.
This painting is on loan to the AKC by the Queen in an exhibition honoring the 100th birthday of the Queen Mother. Ceasar is a Wire Fox Terrier, painted in 1910 by Maud Earl.
Pug Oil on Canvas
Want to see what a Pug looked like in the late 1700s and early 1800s? Richard Ramsey Reinagle’s oil on canvas speaks volumes. The pug is athletic in appearance with a longer snout.
“This is historic documentation of breeds and their evolution,” Fausel shared.
Want to check out your favorite breeder or gain more information on them? A large digital repository of breeders galore resides outside the library. We happened to look up Cockers, and low and behold, we found someone we know!
Throughout the two stories, visitors learn to train a dog, find a breed, learn canine history, and go digital in a variety of ways. We had a wonderful time getting to know the Cocker Spaniel in the Meet the Breeds touchscreen table area, which allows multiple users.
Museum Of The Dog Rating
Very much like Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, dog lovers will be awestruck and surprised with each turn. Because the exhibits will be rotated, each visit is a new experience and an opportunity to fall in love with the art of dog all over again.
Speaking of Willy Wonka, we managed to become dogs while visiting thanks to the interactive display which tells you what breed you most resemble. It emails you the results, but we snapped a shot while on site.
Check out the fun, embrace your inner canine, and walk through the dog museum like the true dog lover of the highest order that you are. You’ll definitely want to sit and stay a while. The Museum of the Dog is worth your time and attention, highly recommended, and four paws up. Check out our video below.