For people who love cats, a cat museum could hold a lot of promise.  What on earth could be in there?

A cat museum might be full of sculptures of cats, or cat things like toys & food bowls or just cat accessories (there was a cat handbag at the Museum of Bags & Purses). It could be actual cats. There is a lot of history of cats in literature, or just cats throughout history.  But the Kattenkabinet is an art museum.  A collection of cat paintings and statues, mostly.

For non-cat lovers the image of a cat museum conjures up a bunch of crazy cat ladies worshiping a shrine to their love of cats.  In this instance, they’re sort of right. The museum is located on the northern end of the Southern Canal belt on the Herengracht canal. It is actually in a beautiful building, more on that later. You are greeted by a cat lady who sells you your ticket and and invites you to enter the museum which is one flight up.

The minute you enter the museum you feel as if you are entering someone’s house (you have to ring a bell to gain entry) and you actually are.  The owner still lives on the 2nd floor.  Even if you don’t like cats you can enjoy the architectural beauty of the building. You get a real sense of what it would be like to be living in 17th century Holland (the building was built in 1667).  One room of the museum is still set up as a dining room with dining table and hutch and all.  This room looks out onto the canal and you can just see the guests gathered around the table enjoying an evening meal with their gracious hosts.  There is a courtyard out back which is in a bit of a shambles right now, but you can imagine a day when it housed the most beautiful garden.

So, if even if you’re not a cat lover, I would say go. But for those of us who actually get excited about the prospect of  a cat museum, it was a bit of a disappointment.  As I said earlier, there is so much opportunity for what a cat museum could be, and while they tout their collection of Picasso, Rembrandt & Toulouse Lautrec, they are overwhelmed by all of the other underwhelming artwork in the collection.  My artistic skills are quite limited but it occurred to me that if I, like Van Gogh, gave up everything and devoted myself to the painting of cats, even I could wind up in the cat museum.

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