New Yorkie, New Yorkie!
Operators of the American Kennel Club’s newly relocated dog museum, opening soon in New York City, want to give visitors a chance to learn more about their furry friends, so they’re unleashing a 150-piece collection and a library area of 15,000 books.
The American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog, which operated outside St. Louis for three decades, is set to open Feb. 8 in Midtown Manhattan, featuring the club’s extensive, mostly donated collection of items.
The collection boasts portraits of royal and presidential pets; artifacts, such as an estimated 30 million-year-old fossil, that trace canine history; and devices that “match” visitors’ faces with dog breeds and let people try their hand at basic dog training. The collection also features paintings of White House dogs: U.S. President George W. Bush’s Scottish terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley, and one of President George H.W. Bush’s English springer spaniels, Millie.
“Dogs have enriched our civilization, and woven themselves into our hearts and families through the ages, and I am delighted to see them acknowledged” in plans for the museum, then-first lady Barbara Bush, who died in April, wrote in a 1990 letter that’s also displayed next to Millie’s portrait. The White House is seen in the background of the springer spaniels’ likeness.
Although there won’t be actual dogs except for special occasions, the museum hopes to give visitors “an understanding of the history of dogs, how they came to be in such variety,” said Executive Director Alan Fausel, a longtime art curator and appraiser.
The museum initially opened in the kennel club’s former headquarters in New York in 1982 but moved in 1987 to a historic house owned by St. Louis County. Officials of St. Louis County didn’t return a call Thursday from the Associated Press, but Parks Director Gary Bess told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this week the museum’s former home will be rented out for events and exhibits.
The kennel club, which runs the nation’s oldest purebred dog registry, has taken heat in recent years from animal-welfare activists who view dog breeding as a beauty contest that fuels puppy mills. The club argues there’s value in breeding to hone various traits, from companionability to bomb-sniffing, and hopes the museum helps make the case.