How Much is that Doggie In the Museum?

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How many pets live in museums?

For more than a century visitors have marvelled at the Hermitage Museum’s precious collections, and for just as long dozens of cats have prowled the Saint Petersburg palace’s sprawling cellars.

The felines have one main task – to root out unwanted guests: rodents. The 70-odd brigade have their claws so deep into the history of Russia’s largest museum, and one of the world’s oldest, that there is even a special feline unit dedicated to their welfare.

By the time Catherine the Great took power in 1762, the felines had become official residents. They were even dubbed the Winter Palace cats, after the royal residence that has now become part of the museum.

They survived successive wars, invasion by Napoleon’s forces and even the revolution that overthrew Tsarist rule.

During World War II, however, the cats did not make it through the 1941-1944 Nazi siege of Leningrad, the city’s name under Soviet rule. The city’s famished population had no choice but to eat their pets in order to survive.

Legend has it that the palace’s feline guard was brought back to life when World War II ended, when new recruits were brought in by train from all over Russia.

By the 1960s, there were so many cats at the Hermitage that the authorities decided it would be best to abandon them.

Yet the rat population proliferated and a few years later the cats again found their place.

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Have you met Jack, who is photographed having a stretch during his shift at the Lambton Heritage Museum in Lambton Shores?

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There is also this devout cat who lives in a fourteen hundred year old museum called Hagia Sophia in Turkey, guarding and preserving its religious and cultural history every single day. His name is  Gli. He is slightly cross eyed but a whole lot of cute. Besides watching guards, gardeners and keeping them supervised, Gli greets tourists and enjoys being photographed by them at the museum.

 

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Photo from Isle of Wight County Museum licensed CC BY-SA 3.0

Of course I must add a pet ham–but it’s not just any ham (you knew I would have to throw some humour in here). This ham in particular (named, you guessed it… Ham) is 113 years old and lives in a museum in Virginia as the world’s oldest cured ham. The story goes that Ham was left to “cure” (be preserved to be eaten later) in 1902 in a meat packing plant and was forgotten. Eventually P.D. Gwaltney Jr. found it and decided to make it his pet. He had a collar made for it and took it everywhere he went. Now the ham, which you could probably still eat, sits in the museum. You used to be able to watch it on a live web cam! The ham was also featured in Ripley’s “Believe It Or Not” in 1929, 1932 and 2003.

So what about locally?

Well look who just became part of the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum in Almonte…

Michael Rikley-Lancaster has added something new to the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum, and it’s not just the new Colour Unboxed show coming up soon. (More on that this week)

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Nevil is giving me “a close-up Mr. Deville”  and wondering what I could possibly add to his territory.

This is Nevil and he is our local addition to the series of “pets in museums”. Nevil is a rescue dog, about 5 years old, and has fit right in as canine curator of the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum . He loves participating in the new exhibits, which I saw in action, and greeting people. Did I mention he loves lots of attention and is beloved by all at the museum?

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 Michael Rikley-Lancaster and Nevil opening up the door to hallowed ground.

Animals have become stars in their own right in museums,  and they have become hugely popular with the many tourists who visit each year. Visitors also snap up souvenirs and postcards adorned with their adorable faces on sale in the museum gift shops. So who knows, maybe down the line Nevil will be gracing some coffee mugs for sale at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum. You just never know!

Come say HI to Nevil and everyone at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum.

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Michael Rikley-Lancaster and Nevil in a Rosamond masterpiece pose.

 

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Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News

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About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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