Once upon a time there was a ginger cat named John Pierpont Morgan. To Bob Meijer, his owner, J.P. Morgan was a special cat, to the point that every five years he gave his four-legged friend an extraordinary present. First came an elegant portrait, then a sculpture (that got stolen) and finally a personalised book plus another (dollar)portrait. Like a president.
Unfortunately, J.P. Morgan didn’t survive long enough to receive his 20th-birthday gift. So, two years after Morgan’s departure (occurred in 1983), Bob Meijer purchased a wonderful 17th-century house in Amsterdam to honour his cat’s memory. But wait, he didn’t do just that.
He started a themed collection in the name of cats. And, moreover, he turned his apartment in an incredible museum.
It’s the Cat Cabinet (Katten kabinet) in Amsterdam I am talking about. What are you waiting for? If you’re crazy about museums and cats – being crazy about cats is enough tough – this is the place to be!
But wait, leave your allergies at home, because someone is still living there. And I am not talking about Bob Meijer. Well, in fact he is still living somewhere upstairs, together with his five (yes, ma’am, five) furry cats. If you’re lucky enough, you can meet some of them (I believe I met all of them), but you must remember that the museum is their place, they literally rule the roost there. As soon as I entered into the Cat Cabinet, for example, a cat imperially pooed on the nice carpet of the living room. And there is a slight but persistent smell of cats all around the house. So turn your nose down and start your visit.
What amazed me about this place it is not just a man’s will and passion that led to the opening of a public space (which is the most common reason pushing people towards the act of collecting), but the courage to initiate something so unique and peculiar, not to say bizarre. Moreover a visit at the Cat Cabinet is a good opportunity to taste a slice of middle(upper, let’s be honest)-class-life in modern times. It is an architectural promenade sprinkled, here and there, by cat-items, from photographies to sculptures, from posters to chairs. And maybe, you will might be able to to pet a cat, if he/she will let you do it, obviously.