Brussels Welcomes Feline-Themed Art at New Cat Museum

Larger than life cat-and-mouse games at the Cat Museum | © Wang Dong - Galerie Laurant Rodin / Courtesy of De Markten
Larger than life cat-and-mouse games at the Cat Museum | © Wang Dong - Galerie Laurant Rodin / Courtesy of De Markten
Photo of Nana Van De Poel
16 February 2017

Belgium harbors a soft spot for the feline race, which was already clear thanks to Ypres’ international Cat Parade and Brussels’ popular cat café Le Chat Touille. Now, the capital is taking things even further by making the tabby king in a temporary Cat Museum that will stick around until the end of March.

Where the Venn diagram of cat lovers and art lovers overlaps, you’ll find Françoise Baronian. The driving force behind Le Musée du Chat, the exhibit currently on display at De Markten in the Dansaert neighborhood, it’s the Belgian gallery owner’s expansive collection that makes up most of Brussels’ quirkiest new museum. Other private collections and galleries have lent a number of feline-themed works to complete the look; cat portraits, sculptures, photographs, video installations, books, paraphernalia and more make sure that the race is represented in a variety of ways. From kitty busts dating back to ancient Egypt to photos of pensive-looking shorthair cats and a massive, literal cat-and-mouse game, about a hundred works show that the animal has long fascinated artists of all periods and disciplines.

Musée du Chat | © Musée du Chat / courtesy of De Markten

It’s this insight that propelled a small group of specialists in the field who shared Baronian’s niche interest to help her put on the idiosyncratic Le Musée du Chat, or The Museum of the Cat. Even though its unusual subject matter fits right in with Brussels’ other unique museums such as the Underwear Museum and the International Puppet Museum, the capital won’t be the exhibition’s permanent home.

Untitled polaroid by Michel Auder | © Isabelle Arthuis / courtesy of De Markten

In fact, the heart of Europe is only the second stop in a traveling tour that will also visit Charleroi and Rotterdam. The exhibition aims to introduce cat lovers everywhere to the role their beloved pet has played in the history of the arts. As Xavier Canonne, a member of the organizing non-profit vzw Le Musée du Chat, remarks, a lot of literary and artistic legends have drawn inspiration from this “silent watchman.” Homer, Poe, Dumas, Ravel and Apollinaire have all been struck by the “beauty, elegance and virtues” of “this homely genius, a source of so much happiness and connection.” The setup will differ in every location, making the one in Brussels unique nonetheless.

Untitled work by David Shrigley | © Isabelle Arthuis / courtesy of De Markten

The Cat Museum can be visited at De Markten for free until Sunday, March 26, 2017. Cultural center Bozar is hosting a lecture on the cat figure in contemporary art on Saturday, February 18, 2017.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel – and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Epic Trips, Mini Trips and Sailing Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travellers and friends who want to explore the world together.

Epic Trips are deeply immersive 8 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and enough down time to really relax and soak it all in. Our Mini Trips are small and mighty - they squeeze all the excitement and authenticity of our longer Epic Trips into a manageable 3-5 day window. Our Sailing Trips invite you to spend a week experiencing the best of the sea and land in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm – and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Cookies Policy

We and our partners use cookies to better understand your needs, improve performance and provide you with personalised content and advertisements. To allow us to provide a better and more tailored experience please click "OK"