Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories
The Hermitage Museum famously keeps cats to control its rodent population, a strategy that was also deployed by the British Museum for many years. Meanwhile, the Hemingway House and Museum in Key West, Florida, goes a step further, housing a cohort of around 50 six-toed cats descended from a moggie once owned by the hard-drinking author himself. But, as a gallery in Japan has demonstrated, not all institutions are quite so welcoming to feline folk.
Two years ago, a black cat known as Ken-chan was shooed away from the entrance of the Onomichi City Museum of Art in Hiroshima Prefecture, which was then hosting an exhibition of cat photography. ‘I’m guessing that Ken-chan spotted some of the exhibits through the glass,’ curator Shinji Umebayashi told the Guardian. ‘And since the photos included those of black cats, he must have thought he had found a new friend.’
Check the Onomichi City Museum of Art account @bijutsu1 for the ongoing story of cats trying to get in the building. Maybe a new tactic here. pic.twitter.com/q6OUqWp4e1
— Nippon.com (@nippon_en) November 14, 2018
Whatever Ken-chan’s motives, it seems that he’s not the type to take no for an answer. He has frequently returned to the museum and attempted to slip his way through the museum’s electric doors, often in the company of a similarly determined ginger cat that museum guards have nicknamed Go-chan. The cats’ repeated efforts to get past security guards have now gone viral, with some social media users pleading with the museum to allow them entry.
A museum in Japan spends most of its day refusing entry to 2 cats trying to get in @bijutsu1 pic.twitter.com/WK4M3Y51hc
— Rajiv (@jiffington) November 13, 2018
At the time of writing, the institution has yet to indicate any change in its entry policy, but the cats show no sign of giving up their mission. Talk about purr-sistence…
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‘She changed how we encounter sculpture’ – remembering Phyllida Barlow (1944–2023)