Amer­i­can Mu­seum of the House Cat

Modern Cat - - Contents - BY ELEANOR MUNK

The cul­mi­na­tion of 30 years of col­lect­ing, this quirky, fas­ci­nat­ing mu­seum is one man’s heart­felt trib­ute to the house cat, hous­ing a ro­bust col­lec­tion of cat-themed trea­sures and cu­riosi­ties. Road trip, any­one?

A kind-hearted col­lec­tor com­bines his love of cats and mu­se­ums to cre­ate a fas­ci­nat­ing and whim­si­cal col­lec­tion burst­ing with colour. Even bet­ter, the mu­seum keeps none of its pro­ceeds, which go in­stead to the shel­ter cats who need them most

There’s noth­ing bet­ter than hit­ting a mu­seum when you’re look­ing for an af­ter­noon of cul­ture, en­ter­tain­ment, and ed­u­ca­tion all wrapped up in one. For cat lovers, the prospect just got even bet­ter—fe­line-themed mu­se­ums are now pop­ping up all over the world, in­clud­ing Malaysia, the Nether­lands, and Mon­tene­gro.

One such gem, the Amer­i­can Mu­seum of the House Cat, is an ex­cel­lent pit stop if you are pass­ing through Jack­son County, North Carolina. Hous­ing the col­lec­tion of Dr. Harold Sims, a re­tired col­lege bi­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor, this fas­ci­nat­ing and colour­ful mu­seum guides you through the his­tory of the do­mes­tic house cat, dat­ing from early Egyp­tian be­gin­nings to the con­tem­po­rary

pe­riod. Gath­ered from across the globe, the mul­ti­tude of cat-themed trea­sures Harold has amassed in­cludes an­cient and mod­ern art (such as a Warhol!), vin­tage ad­ver­tis­ing, an­tique clocks, mid-cen­tury Ital­ian ceram­ics, fine glass­ware, and even an ac­tual pet­ri­fied cat, which was found in the chim­ney breast of a me­dieval house in York­shire, the United King­dom.

“I have al­ways loved mu­se­ums,” Harold says. “A long time ago I learned that there were cat mu­se­ums through­out the world, which showed the in­flu­ence that the house cat has had on lit­er­a­ture and art. But there were none in Amer­ica.”

The col­lec­tor, who re­cently cel­e­brated his 82nd birth­day, de­cided to be the one to bring the phe­nom­e­non to Amer­ica. Af­ter all, he has spent the last thirty years amass­ing a fan­tas­tic col­lec­tion, so he cer­tainly had the trea­sures to show­case.

“My mu­seum is small,” Harold ad­mits. “But I have filled it with more than 5000 items. My hope is that it will al­ways be a place where cat lovers can learn and can cel­e­brate… love for the house cat.”

The Amer­i­can Mu­seum of the House Cat, how­ever, does more than pro­vide a fas­ci­nat­ing in­sight into the his­tory of the house cat—it also helps to save lives.

“I do not, nor will I, take com­pen­sa­tion for my­self,” Harold tells us, con­cern­ing the funds raised from the pur­chase of mu­seum tick­ets. “All funds from the mu­seum, af­ter the cost of rent and a sin­gle guide, will go to the shel­ter.”

The shel­ter Harold refers to is his other un­der­tak­ing, Cat­man2 Cat shel­ter. This awe­some cage-free, no-kill shel­ter in Jack­son County is also run by Harold, along­side his wife Kay. By vis­it­ing the House Cat mu­seum, you are di­rectly sup­port­ing the 80-plus cats cur­rently housed at the Cat­man2 Cat shel­ter. Your mu­seum ticket price helps with the res­cue and adop­tion of th­ese cats.

“Be­fore Cat­man2 Inc opened,” Harold ex­plains, “the county eu­th­a­nized hun­dreds [of cats] each year.” This year, “the county has not killed a sin­gle healthy, adopt­able cat.”

“I do this for my love of cats,” Harold tells us. “I hope that both mu­seum and shel­ter will be able to live on af­ter I'm gone.”

We can’t think of a nicer legacy. To learn more, plan a visit, or sup­port Harold's work, check out cat­man2.org.

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