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A cat and mouse game at a museum in Japan

16 November 2018

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.’

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.

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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