Get ready for the entire family to go doggone wild over the new AKC Museum of the Dog! It is the country’s premier museum dedicated to all things dog and home to one of the largest collections of dog art in the world. We toured with the museum’s Executive Director Alan Fausel and the Museum of the Dog has the perfect combination of fine art, educational elements, and whimsy for families. It is a treat for everyone!
The gallery is going to be a huge hit with kids of all ages. The first exhibition is “For the Love of All Things Dog” and combines works from the American Kennel Club’s collection with works from the museum’s own. Here Victorian paintings and older are very accessible to kids due to the subject matter. There are life-sized sculptures that our little ones couldn’t help but want to pet and hug, and also incredible interactive educational elements and digital displays. And beyond the paintings there are dog related items – not just art- so there is a lot to see and learn.
The museum has multiple, digital displays that are fun and educational and span from the ceiling to the floor. Our hands down favorite is the interactive puppy training. My little ladies were able to virtually train Molly, a lab puppy. As Molly playfully barked at the girls, they barked commands to her and to their amazement she listened! They said, “Molly lets work. Speak!” And she barks. They also played fetch, taught her to stay, and rewarded her with treats. It is incredible and the girls loved every second! The accuracy and emotion shine through from Molly’s bark to her tail wag.
Another fan favorite is the “Find Your Match” kiosk. Ever wonder what type of dog you or your loved one would be? If so, stand close, take a photo, and say “woof!” Then the screen displays the meet your breed match. You can email it to yourself or to your friends and fans on social media. It’s great fun! My little lady was a Siberian Husky: smart and mischievous. It was a perfect fit!
There are also multiple “Meet the Breeds” touchscreen tables that allow you to explore the AKC’s heart and soul: meet and greet its 193 dog breeds. This digital display is full of content from the AKC with detailed photographs of the dogs, attributes, fun facts, gallery pieces, and more. People can identify the dogs they wondered what they were on their block!
As you explore the museum, there’s an app with every collection items and for the children, they have a kids app. The kids app highlights ten pieces where you go and can have a scavenger hunt, complete a little quiz, and earn a reward at the conclusion of the visit. There are also a few places to meet Arty, a three-dimensional Pokémon who comes out in the app.
By exploring on your own or using the app, you can find collection highlights such as a multi- million year-old fossilized dog, famous works like Millie, George H.W. Bush presidential dog with a letter from Barbara Bush, and a centralized, multi-story glass vitrine with ceramics and bronzes from well-known porcelain manufacturers like Royal Daulton and modern artists as well. Another focal point is the over eight foot wire sculpture of a Labrador illuminated in different colors. The sculpture colors will change like the Empire State Buildings for special occasion and holiday.
Kids will enjoy the whimsical art like the Austrian pug band sculptures. Other curiosities include an ancient artifact, the Victorian’s children’s dog cart. A large dog like a mastiff or Saint Bernard would pull the children in the cart as pictured in the adjacent painting. There are also tributes to working dogs, war dogs like Smokey, a large collection of collars, and trophies but you’ll have to check it out yourself to get the whole furry story.
The girls enjoyed the library education center with Miss Emily, who runs the educational component, and were enamored with her knowledge and love of dogs. Together they colored dog coloring pages, perused the 15,000 volume library, and learned about the dog of the month. The education center will soon host wonderful workshops, educational events, class field trips, scout days, and more. Before you go back home to your furry friend, you can scan and post your dog drawing on the Community Wall (MOD_community wall Instagram account) dedicated to all the kids’ artwork and allowing them to see their masterpiece on the wall and on Instagram.
While there are no real dogs allowed in the museum, service dogs are allowed and they are endless dogs to meet and play with there. You may even spot the museum’s mascot, a skeleton of the famous fox terrier Belgrave Joe. It is an immersive experience into the world of our best furry friends, combining education and art and dogs popping up everywhere! As Mr. Fausel said, he hopes “we have some fun here and learn something. There’s a lot to learn.”
The official opening is this Friday, February 8. Telling the story of dogs to everyone and the pursuit of perfection! To learn more, visit museumofthedog.org!