AKC Museum of the Dog.
Photo: Courtesy of the AKC Museum of the Dog

The Museum of the Dog Finds a New Home in New York City

With a collection of canine-related artworks and interactive displays, this new museum appeals to art and animal lovers alike

Just steps away from Grand Central Terminal in New York, man’s best friend is getting a coming-out party like no other. On February 8, the AKC Museum of the Dog opened at the Kalikow Building on Park Avenue, marking a return to New York for the institution, which was founded in 1982, after three decades in St. Louis.

It was up there [in Missouri] for 32 years and it was sort of isolated in a very nice part of town, but it was too far outside of town,” the museum’s executive director, Alan Fausel, tells Galerie. “We didn’t have much attendance so they decided let’s move here.”

Lobby of the AKC Museum of the Dog. Photo: Courtesy of the AKC Dog Museum

The museum’s collection contains 1,700 canine-related pieces, including paintings, sculptures, film memorabilia, and a large wire sculpture hanging from the ceiling that lights up at night. The sculpture was commissioned for the space. “Like the Empire State Building,” says Fausel, “you can change the colors.”

Wire hanging dog sculpture. Photo: Courtesy of the AKC Dog Museum

The museum contains works by some of the most renowned dog artists, including Sir Edwin Landseer, Maud Earl, and Arthur Wardle. The opening exhibition, “For the Love of All Things Dog,” features highlights from the museum’s collection as well as that of the American Kennel Club. There, you’ll see paintings of a variety of dog breeds, such as The Totteridge XI, an 1897 portrait of a smooth fox terrier by Arthur Wardle related to the dog-breeding sport, according to the wall text, of the pursuit of excellence, as well as a pair of large glazed ceramic sculptures of harlequin Great Danes from 1960 by the Hispania Factory.

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You’ll also see portraits of dogs with famed owners like Maud Earl’s portrait of King Edward VII’s beloved terrier, Caesar, as well as a few paintings of dogs in the White House, including Constance Coleman’s 2005 portrait of Laura and George W. Bush’s Scottish terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley.

Installation view of the exhibition “For the Love of All Things Dog.” Photo: Courtesy of AKC Museum of the Dog

The stairs leading to the second level circle around a three-story glass vitrine, which contains 12 shelves with 120 rare sculptural pieces. Six digital interactive displays are another remarkable aspect of the new museum, including a “Find Your Match” kiosk that pairs visitors with their respective dog breeds, several touch screens that introduce visitors to the history and traits of dogs that are a part of the AKC, and even a motion-capture Labrador retriever named Molly that visitors can train and play tricks with.

The museum’s library section on the upper floor. Photo: Courtesy of AKC Museum of the Dog

Kids will enjoy touring the museum’s shows with a virtual dog/tour guide named Arty via a downloadable app, and there are activity tables set up in the library area and a “community wall” to display their own creations.

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