Throw yourself a bone and head to one of these canine-centric museums.
Last year was a good one for dog museums. Two new spaces devoted to humankind’s best friend opened in Germany and the United States, celebrating dachshunds, poodles, golden retrievers, and the whole gamut.
These spots joined several other dog-inspired exhibitions worth sniffing out around the world. From Japan to Switzerland, here are six museums devoted to dogs that are the perfect places for canine-lovers to ogle over our furry, four-legged friends.
Musée et Chiens du Saint-Bernard
St. Bernard dogs, known for their expertise in rescuing lost or injured mountaineers, were first bred in Switzerland during the 17th century by monks living along the Great St. Bernard Pass. Today, those original dogs’ descendants continue to be bred at Barryland, a St. Bernard center at the foot of the Swiss Alps that also houses a museum known as the Musée et Chiens du Saint-Bernard. Founded in 2006, the museum tells the history of Switzerland’s national dog through kid-friendly displays of literature and art. Barryland’s main allure however, is the real group of dogs onsite. The ground floor houses kennels connected to an outdoor area where litters of St. Bernards romp around freely. To visitors’ delight, petting the pups is permitted. (Adults $13, children $7)
Museum of Dog
North Adams, Massachusetts
Located in a former 19th-century saloon, this Berkshires museum features a private collection of more than 180 pieces of dog-inspired art, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, and pet accessories. (Among the most notable works are images by William Wegman, the Massachusetts-born photographer best known for his acclaimed dog portraits, and sculptures by Mary Engel, the artist renowned for her “found object assemblage” animal sculptures.) Museum of Dog (or M.O.D.) opened in January 2018 just blocks from one of the country’s largest contemporary art museums, MASS MoCA. Dog-friendly tours can be arranged—and as one might expect, the fluffballs get in for free. (Adults $5, children $1)
Earlier this year, the Bavarian city of Passau made its love for dachshunds clear by welcoming a museum devoted entirely to the breed. Dackelmuseum (which translates to “Dachshund Museum”) is filled with 4,500 different items celebrating dachshunds, which were first bred in Germany during the 17th century. According to founders Josef Küblbeck and Oliver Storz, the museum features the world’s largest collection of wiener dog paraphernalia. But it’s not just artifacts you’ll find at Dackelmuseum—Küblbeck’s and Storz’s own sausage dogs make regular appearances, and visitors are welcome to bring their dogs too. (Adults $6, children under 12 enter for free)
The first European museum dedicated to dogs actually doubles as a rescue shelter. Named after the leading architect’s childhood dog, Foof invites museumgoers to celebrate the relationship between dogs and humans through art while simultaneously giving visitors the opportunity to adopt dogs from the kennel onsite. Exhibitions at Foof include a fascinating display of more than 120 dog collars dating back to the ancient Roman era; a photography collection of royals, politicians, and celebrities with their pet dogs; and various dog-inspired sculptures, including two famed works by the popular contemporary artist Jeff Koons. (Adults $6, children $4)
The Akita Dog Museum is Japan’s only museum dedicated to the country’s most famous dog breed, the Akita Inu. Located in Odate within the Akita prefecture (the breed’s birthplace), this small but informative museum managed by the Akita Dog Preservation Society offers exhibits that outline the important roles these dogs have played in Japanese history and traditional life. Outside of the museum stands a statue of the famous Akita named Hachiko, a dog widely known across Japan for demonstrating true loyalty to his owner by showing up at a train station and awaiting his return from work every day for nine years after the owner’s death. (Adults $2, children $1)
American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog
New York City
On September 30, 2018, the AKC Museum of the Dog closed its 14,000-square-foot facility after 30 years in St. Louis, Missouri, to move to a new location in Midtown Manhattan, just steps away from Grand Central Station. The museum devoted to dogs houses one of the largest collections of canine-related fine art in the world. When it opens its doors to the public on February 8, visitors will be able to peruse the museum’s two stories filled with dog sculptures, prints, and paintings by famous artists such as Sir Edwin Landseer and Maud Earl, plus an archival library showcasing breed-specific books and other dog-related publications. (Adults $15, children $5)
This article originally appeared online in August 2018; it was updated on January 15, 2019, to include current information.