American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog
If you’re a dog lover, a visit to St. Louis would be amiss without stopping in at the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog, home of the world’s finest collection of art devoted to the dog.
Located in Queeny Park, a 569-acre park in west St. Louis County, the 14,000-square-foot facility includes the nationally registered historic Jarville House built in 1853. More than 700 original paintings, drawings, watercolors, prints, sculptures, bronzes and porcelain figurines, and a variety of decorative objects depicting dogs through the ages comprise the collection.
The AKC Museum of the Dog is dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and interpretation of the art, artifacts and literature of the dog for the purposes of education, historical perspective, aesthetic enjoyment and to enhance the appreciation for and knowledge of the significance of the dog and the human-canine relationship. This museum promises to enlighten and inspire all who have had the pleasure of loving a dog and experiencing his loyal devotion.
Dog lovers create a vision
In the 1970s, a number of dog lovers began meeting to talk about creating a national museum for art and books dedicated to dogs. In 1973, the Westminster Kennel Club Foundation conducted a survey to explore the level of support for such a project. The results were encouraging, but the idea was thought to need more support before a museum could come to fruition. Thus, in 1979, the American Kennel Club Foundation was formed to help achieve this goal, and in 1981, The Dog Museum of America hired William Secord to serve as its first director.
The museum moved in 1987 from New York City, where it was housed at the AKC office in the New York Life building on Madison Avenue, to the historic Jarville House in west St. Louis County. The intent was for the newly named The Dog Museum to operate on its own entity, but in 1995 the museum was renamed the AKC Museum of the Dog in an effort to help ensure its future through reaffiliation with the American Kennel Club. Gift donations of art continue to make this museum’s collection one of the largest in the country.
Visiting the museum
The AKC Museum of the Dog is open year-round Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.; it is closed on Mondays and holidays. Admission fees are $5 for adults, $2.50 for seniors and $1 for children 5 to 14 years old.
The Museum Gift Shop offers a variety of items including tapestry pillows, ceramic and jeweled dog dishes, books on dogs, umbrellas, stationery, T-shirts, and jewelry, as well as one-of-a-kind objects exclusive to the museum.
A book and video library is available by appointment for research on purebred dogs and animal artists. The museum also is available for rental for special occasions, dog club activities, private parties, seminars and meetings.
Featured in the permanent collection
Among the AKC Museum of the Dog’s permanent collection of more than 700 works are a number of oil-on-canvas paintings, both contemporary and historic. Acquisitions are usually received as donations from foundations and individuals.
The collection includes 19 paintings donated in 1993 from the estate of Cynthia S. Wood. A 19th century piece, “Deerhound and Recumbent Foxhound,” by the well-known English artist Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, a favorite of Queen Victoria, is part of this acquisition.
Another noteworthy piece is “Great Dane,” which was given to the museum in 2008 from the estate of Nancy-Carroll Draper. The painting, which dates to the late 19th or early 20th century, was done by Maud Earl, the daughter of renowned dog artist George Earl. She is known for capturing the expression and true character of her subjects.
Another recent donation is an oil-on-canvas painting, “On the Scent,” a 19th century work by John Sargent Noble featuring Bloodhounds. It was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Robert V. Lindsay in 1997. Mrs. Nancy Lindsay served as the museum’s vice president from 1982 through 1984, and as chairwoman until 1992.