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New York art museum goes to the dogs

A museum dedicated to man’s best friend is about to be unleashed, once again, on New York City. 

The American Kennel Club’s Museum of the Dog opens to the public Feb. 8, returning to New York after moving to St. Louis in 1987. 

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"(The museum hope to give visitors) an understanding of the history of dogs, how they came to be in such different variety," executive director Alan Fausel told The Associated Press. 

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The museum features about 150 items from the kennel’s collection, in addition to about 15,000 books in its library. 

Exhibits include paintings of White House dogs, a 19th-century skeleton of a smooth fox terrier and movie posters celebrating canine stars from movies including “Lassie” and “Beethoven.” 

There won’t be any actual dogs at the museum, except on special occasions.

The kennel club runs the country’s oldest purebred registry. The club hopes the museum showcases how breeding helps to hone specific traits, whether they are for bomb-sniffing or hunting.

"I think the best thing to take away is the fact that dogs were meant to have different jobs," Fausel said. "It's learning why they were purposely bred for certain jobs, and their activities and their attributes."

The museum first opened in 1982 in New York. Hoping to increase the number of visitors from 15,000, it moved to a larger space in St. Louis in 1987. The museum had about 10,000 visitors last year. 

The historic St. Louis house did offer one thing the high-end Manhattan office does not -- access for visitors’ pets. At the new location, only service dogs are allowed in the museum.

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