I have a bit of a hobby when it comes to discovering the random and obscure corners of Amsterdam — those little touches of eccentricity that make the city unique… And today, chancing upon the KattenKabinet with my kids, I definitely stumbled upon a bright shining example of the city’s randomness, obscurity, and eccentricity.
In a beautiful canal house on one of the most prestigious bends of the Herengracht, the KattenKabinet is a private museum (read, "personal cat collection gone semi-public") with an astonishing assortment of paintings, posters, drawings, sculptures, taxidermy pieces, and a thousand other assorted knick-knacks having anything to do with cats. The place seems to confirm every stereotype about the rich elderly "cat lady" who adores her "babies" — and, I should point out that in addition to all of the old exhibits on display, there were half a dozen live cats roaming around freely — thus the museum stands as a bizarre temple lavishing every praise and comfort imaginable upon the feline residents of the house…
Perhaps this sounds a bit creepy (and I suppose from a certain angle, it is). But far from feeling creeped out by the place this morning, my kids and I had a lot of fun at the KattenKabinet.
Elliot and Olivia enjoyed the hands-on exhibits within the KattenKabinet; the place is refreshing in its lack of the airs of the more traditional museums in the city where armed guards stand an arms-length away from the paintings, ready to pounce upon anyone who looks at the artwork the wrong way. The wide-open spaces within the mostly-empty old canal house were ideal places to dart about and shout breathless excitement over a particular cat painting or such.
The children’s favorite exhibit at the Katten Kabinet was probably the "pinball machine" with porcelein cats that made musical sounds when marbles cascaded through their ranks… Although the real cats roaming the halls of the museum had to have been a close second.
All in all, I don’t know if I would really recommend the KattenKabinet to the average tourist. Being a more… um, unique kind of museum, the Museumjaarkaart is useless for gaining access — and truthfully, €5 per adult (€2.50 for children between the ages of 4 and 12) is a bit ridiculous for the amount and quality of the collection (we took our time, savoring the experience, and we were still in and out in a little more than an hour).
But the KattenKabinet is definitely an experience. And I’m glad that I can now say that I’ve been there.