AKC Museum of the Dog: Dog Friendly Destination For Fido and His Owner
Americans love dogs. It’s a love affair that has driven the creation of countless breeds now recognized and celebrated by the American Kennel Club. It was also the catalyst that created the establishment of the AKC Museum of The Dog in 1979.
The Museum of the Dog, which focuses on artwork depicting dogs, quickly outgrew its New York City home. After planning and negotiations the museum made the successful move in 1987 to West St. Louis County where it’s housed in the 1853 Jarville House within St. Louis County Park & Recreation’s Queeny Park. Today the museum boasts the world’s largest canine collection of art and artifacts, numbering over 7000 pieces. On display at any given time are four to five thousand pieces including paintings, drawings, porcelains, bronzes and non-fine art materials as dog colors and toys depicting dogs. With such a vast collection and its premier park location it’s amazing how one of St. Louis’ more unique museums often is overlooked.
“ Overlooked is a good description,’ said Museum of the Dog executive Director Stephen George. “ People didn’t even know to overlook us because people were unaware we even existed. Part of my goal is to make more and more people know who we are, where we are and what we are.”
To accomplish George’s awareness goal the Museum of the Dog has raised the bar by increasing programs and events. As George said, “We have enormous things in the works.”
Visitors can enjoy special events and programs such as its Guest Dog of the Week Program, which runs Saturdays (10:30 am – 1:30 pm) and Sundays (1:30 – 4 pm) March through early December 2015. The event allows museum visitors the opportunity to learn more the featured week’s breed while meeting the dogs and their owners. A Lecture Series is also on the calendar and have covered diverse topics as Why Women Love Dogs as historical overview of the Jarville estate and house, the museum’s home.
Galleries host a mix of permanent, revolving and specialty themed exhibits. Currently on display are the Champions of Westminster featuring photographs from the AKC Best in Show Winners from 1907 – 1991 and The Canine Art of Maud Earl.
“ Maude Earl was the foremost painter of canines in the U.S. and Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She became renown for what she did – painting the royal court and other famous people’s dogs. We’ve been gifted a Maude Earl and we’re excited about it because there is a mystery about it besides being the largest if not the largest she ever painted.”
The painting was an anonymous gift whose provenance has remained a mystery along with the woman depicted on the canvas, which measures 8 1/2-foot tall and 5 1/2 feet wide.
“It’s a mystery,” said George. “ Earl painted few human subjects but nobody knows who the woman in the painting. Since it has always been kept in private collections we may never know.”
Unlike other museums that limit access to service-dogs only The Museum of the Dog welcomes all well- behaved canines with their owners.
“Anyone can bring their dogs in to the museum as long as they are well behaved,” said George.
Canine guests are greeted with special treats and water bowls. When asked what George would like the community to know about the Museum of the Dog he said, “ That we’re here and we’re dog friendly.
The AKC Museum of the Dog is located at 1721 South Mason Road and is open year round with hours Tuesdays through Sundays, closed Mondays and holidays. To plan your visit www.museumofthedog.org
Guest Blogger Suzanne Corbett contributed to this blog.