Dogs at Museums

Dogs and museums are things that you don’t expect to see in the same sentence very often. However, if you live in the Boston area, then you might have seen them together in the headlines twice lately.

The most recent example is the press coverage of the new Museum of Dog that just opened in North Adams in early March. It was founded by fashion icon David York, and in case you’re kind of wondering what might be in such a place, exhibits include photographs by William Wegman, sculptures by Mary Engel and Kathy Ruttenberg as well as unique things that York collected like rare antique dog collars and antique Steiff dog hand puppets.

Here’s the story that I saw from the Boston Globe.
The Berkshires now have a dog museum (Boston Globe)
There’s also more background in the local paper.
Coming soon to North Adams: A dog museum (Adam Shanks, The Berkshire Eagle)

Earlier this year there was also a cute story covered by most local media about Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts “hiring” a 12 week old Weimaraner puppy named Riley to protect their collections from unwanted visitors. Here’s a clip from the local CBS News channel and a news story about the little guy.


Museum Of Fine Arts Welcomes New Pest Detection Dog (CBS Boston)

So, dogs and museums aren’t as incongruous as they may seem, at first. In fact, there’s also a Museum of the Dog in St. Louis, MO backed by the American Kennel Club. Here’s a local news clip about that museum.

Last year the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis also hosted an exhibit entitled Dogs: Faithful and True. Here’s a clip from the local news channel about it.


Here’s a longer, more in depth piece made in connection with the exhibit that features a chat with a musher from the Iditarod.

The Smithsonian even has a whole page dedicated to dogs entitled Dog: Museum’s Best Friend. So dogs and museums aren’t incongruous, and this is all even fairly down to Earth stuff as far as the conservative world of traditional museums go.

A bit further off the beaten path was a contemporary art show that premiered in London in 2016 that featured interactive sculptures by Dominic Wilcox as well as wall based paintings, drawings and collages that dogs would appreciate. The paintings were even created in colours dogs can see and scented in the subject matter of the art work.

Here’s another clip with Dominic Wilcox explaining a bit more about his works.

Now, the higher-minded readers amongst you are probably wondering about the obvious, but oft overlooked question of service dogs in museums. Certainly, that is an important subject and most museums cover it on their web pages. There’s even a sweet story about a canine assistant named Emma at the Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Missouri. Meet Emma, the Docent Dog (Center for the Future of Museums)

I couldn’t find a video of Emma, but here’s a 360° Video from the earlier post Cute Critter Break about some future service dogs.

The literary minded geeks might also be itching to thrust their hands into the air. Yes indeed, there is a quirky novel by Jonathan Carroll entitled Outside the Dog Museum.

Of course, the less intellectually inclined readers amongst you are probably disappointed because this post hasn’t been about what you thought it was going to be about. You thought this was going to be about C.M. Coolidge’s series Dogs Playing Poker colloquially known as Dogs at Cards, didn’t you?

Don’t fret — here are a few morsels for you 🙂

15 Things You Should Know About Dogs Playing Poker (Kristy Puchko, Mental Floss)

Find out more about animals, museums and, of course, just a tad o’ humor