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Cultural Heritage / Trip Ideas

From homeless to museum curator: a feline story

By Zhe Wang

November 3

In the Guanfu Museum, cats curate ancient artworks, porcelain crafts, and furniture.

In the Guanfu Museum, cats curate ancient artworks, porcelain crafts, and furniture.

Outside the northeast corner of Beijing’s fourth ring road, cats curate ancient artworks, porcelain crafts, and furniture.

Cats relax on an Arhat bed with yellow pear patterning from the late Ming dynasty. [Image Credit: photo provided to China.org.cn]
Ma Weidu, famous in China for his art collections, adopted 20 homeless cats last year and made them the world’s first official cat curators. Their new home, the Guanfu Museum, was opened by Ma in 1997 and was one of China’s first private museums.

Guanfu Museum. [Image Credit: Wang Zhe/China.org.cn]
Guanfu Museum [Image Credit: Wang Zhe/China.org.cn]
Ma Weidu, the founder of the museum gives the cats offer. [Image Credit: Wang Zhe/China.org.cn]
Ma Weidu, the founder of the museum gives the cats offer. [Image Credit: Wang Zhe/China.org.cn]
The cats lounge on Ming dynasty Arhat beds, nap on thrones, and eat with Yuan era porcelain bowls.

Cat curators eat from porcelain bowl. [Image Credit: Wang Zhe/China.org.cn]
Cat curators eat from porcelain bowl. [Image Credit: Wang Zhe/China.org.cn]
The museum has a special cat room and invites doctors to give routine health checks. However, limited space means the museum can’t keep all of them, and plans to hold adoption activities.

The dorm. [Image Credit: Wang Zhe/China.org.cn]
The dorm [Image Credit: Wang Zhe/China.org.cn]
Cat curators have become part of the Guanfu Museum’s brand. As they walk, jump and rest around the building and its artifacts, they enliven objects than can seem distant to many visitors.  Their images are designed into cartoon and they have specific books, weibo account (Chinese twitter), and comic strips.

Office room of the cat curators
Office room of the cat curators [Image Credit: photo provided to China.org.cn]
A cat curator in the museum
A cat curator in the museum [Image Credit: photo provided to China.org.cn]
A cat curator in the museum
A cat curator in the museum [Image Credit: photo provided to China.org.cn]

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