The Falconer, a 20th Century work by Donald Grant featuring the Saluki dog breed.

 

Sculpture, paintings, interactive kiosks, and even fossils come together to celebrate the return of the AKC’s Museum of the Dog, located at 101 Park Avenue, just south of Grand Central Terminal.

 

The American Kennel Club has been amassing an impressive collection of canine art, sculpture, bric-a-brac, and historical pieces for more than 130 years.  To house the collection, a museum was created in the NY Life Building in 1982, and then moved to the Jarville House in St. Louis, Missouri.  Last week, the museum returned to New York City to coincide with the Westminster Dog Show and boasts, ‘the largest, highest quality assemblages of canine art in the world’.

On the left, a 30 million year old fossil of Hesperocyon, an ancestor of today’s dog, and on the right, a Roman dog’s foot print dating from 3AD, proving that even back in ancient Rome, dogs were still tracking mud across the kitchen floor.  Click on the photo for a brief YouTube video on Hesperocyon.

 

If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking that even the ‘highest quality assemblages of canine art’ is unlikely to cause a crush of ticket buyers at the door, but the Museum of the Dog’s collection should not and cannot be easily dismissed.  Two stories of thoughtfully curated paintings, mixed media art pieces, and bone fragments, impress, move, and surprise visitors.  Its sculpture, oil portraits, and even furniture, connect one with hundreds of years of dogs seen through the eyes of those that were in love, were in mourning, were in awe, and were inspired by humanity’s best friend.

 

 

 

Painted by renowned artist, Maud Earl (1864-1943). This oil on canvas depicts Edward VII’s dog, Caesar, mourning the loss of his beloved King. The dog was so important to the King, that Edward VII stipulated in his will that he be allowed to walk in the funeral procession. Artist, Earl, was born in London, but emigrated to the U.S. after World War I.  She died in New York in 1943 and is buried in Sleepy Hollow.

Below are a few snap shots of some of my favorites from this show, but treat yourself to this art experience.  The AKC Museum of the Dog is located at 101 Park Avenue, just south of Grand Central Terminal with its entrance on the north side of 40th street between Park and Lex.  Admission is 15 dollars for adults and 5 dollars for children under 12. Seniors, the military, students and young people aged 13-24 pay only 10 dollars.  Tickets are available for purchase through their website or at the door.  They are open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-5pm.  Remember great dining options are available in Grand Central before or after your visit to the museum running the gamut from the famed Oyster Bar to simpler, but delicious options like Cafe Grumpy (unmatched coffee) and The Great Northern Deli (the squash soup, topped with roasted pumpkin seeds, is amazing).

 

 

Fun kiosks like this draw visitors more deeply into the museum’s experience.  Here, after posing for a photo, you’re matched with your canine counterpart.  Smart and Perceptive, huh?  I’ll take that!

I’ll give you a hint.  She was owned by a very popular, 20th Century, U.S. President.  Can you guess her name?  If you’re into this sort of thing, here’s a link to more of the animals that U.S.Presidents have owned.

The museum has a number of impressive sculptures placed throughout the building.

A closer look at the detail of John Sargent Noble’s painting, Pug and Terrier.  The terrier is outfitted with a collection can.  It was the custom in the latter half of the 18th century to employ canines to solicit donations for specific causes. 

An actual 19th Century Chihuahua dog house built for, presumably, an extremely well loved dog. It is one of several pieces of furniture exhibited in this show.

This impressive interactive station teaches you how to train your dog to do basic tricks.  The dog, in this responsive video, awaits your command!

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