5 dog museums that draw inspiration from man’s (and woman’s) best friend


For years, the world’s most famous dog-inspired painting was probably Dogs Playing Poker, a kitschy turn-of-the-century series intended to cheekily advertise cigars. A century later, our body of canine-themed art is thankfully growing, so much so that dog-themed museums are sprouting across the globe. In Germany, two dog-loving florists recently opened a gallery devoted to Dachshunds, while a 12th-century Norman castle has converted one of its rooms into a showcase of 5 centuries worth of dog collars.


Meanwhile, in North America, multiple museums display works by artists drawing inspiration from their four-legged muse, including one in The Berkshires, just across from the local Museum of Contemporary Art. Regardless, this is a wholly welcoming trend for dog-lovers, who’ve enjoyed new opportunities to drink, travel, work, and even do yoga with pets in tow. Increasingly, when you want to brush up on some culture, there’s no reason you can’t bring Fido, too.


Germans love their beer and bratwurst, so much so that their trademark canine even looks like a sausage. Literally a “badger dog” in German, this native breed holds such a special place in Bavarian lore that the Dachshund even doubled as a mascot for Munich’s 1972 Olympic Games! It was really just a matter of time before dog-loving Germans opened a museum devoted to everything Dachshund, which happened last January in the southern town of Passau. Guests can browse a diverse collection of 4,500 breed-specific items, which is believed to be the largest Dachshund-exclusive collection in the world. Humans will be charged 5 euros for the privilege, and dogs of all types are welcome.


Though currently planning a move to New York City, which is where the collection actually started, The American Kennel Club’s Museum of the Dog is currently hosted in a historic St. Louis County house, built in 1853. With 700 original paintings, watercolors, sculptures and drawings, this is widely considered to be the world’s largest collection of canine-inspired art, though you won’t find any cheap reproductions here. Museum of the Dog prides itself on its fine art curation, a tradition that started with the donation of an oil portrait of a long-haired terrier, Bob. The current exhibit, Fr-enemies!, which also features cats for the first time, will be running through September 30th, 2018.


The Berkshires have long been known as an art-lover’s hub, and a new canine-themed gallery has become a must-see stop on this well-trodden cultural trail. Opened in January 2018, Museum of Dog, or M.O.D., was founded by a former fashion executive and dog-lover, David York, who most recently ran a doggie daycare in Atlanta. M.O.D. allows York to marry his love for dogs and eye for design in a cleverly curated display that incorporates over 180 pieces of photography, sculptures and even 18th-century dog collars. The current exhibit, Come See About Me, follows a Weimeraner rescue, Daisy, and her favorite Jeep.


But M.O.D doesn’t have the corner on dog collars, at least not according to Leeds Castle, the former home to King Henry VIII and his first Queen, Katherine, in Kent, England. Though the building itself has been around for centuries — literally, it was built in 1119 A.D. — the interior dog collar museum is significantly newer. The collection got its start in 1977 when the widow of a historian donated much of their shared collection, which included over 60 dog collars spanning the 16th-19th centuries, upon his passing. The gift inspired others to do the same, hence the current collection of 130 collars spanning 5 centuries, including one 13th-century iron piece used to protect pet mastiffs from hungry bears and wolves.


Everyone knows that if you’re stuck in an avalanche, you want a St. Bernard by your side. The shaggy mastiff-sheepdog mix has been a mountaineer’s best friend throughout the centuries, tagging along on search patrols and demonstrating a clear aptitude for sniffing out people buried in snow. The dog is especially revered up in the Swiss Alps, where dogs were often sent out alone as canine search-and-rescue teams. If the dogs happened upon an avalanche victim, one St. Bernard would run for help while another would start cuddling, emitting lifesaving warmth through his or her thick coat, as well as a keg-collar filled with body-warming brandy or wine. Now the Swiss Alps town of Martigny, which already boasts a St. Bernard Pass, has created a museum devoted to this big-hearted breed, chock full of art, books, collectibles — and actual St. Bernards, who are available for petting downstairs.