We daresay that among our readers are dog owners whose breed-specific collections of books, collectables, figurines and art are virtual mini-museums of a breed. These are private, of course, and the rest of us must rely on public collections to get our dog “fix.” The AKC Museum of the Dog is the best known of them – and there are others, but not nearly enough of them.
In Finland, there is a museum that collects, preserves and exhibits online items related to native Finnish dog breed, and in Japan is the Akita museum. A museum that celebrates the North American heritage of hunting with hounds can be found in Virginia, and of course, Snoopy has a museum. There’s also a museum dedicated to the Dachshund.
We can add another museum to the list, and that is the Musée et Chiens du Saint-Bernard in Martigny, Switzerland.
St. Bernards – legendary for their expertise in rescuing lost or injured mountaineers – were first bred in Switzerland during the 17th century by monks living along the Great St. Bernard Pass. Today, descendents of the original dogs are being bred at Barryland, a St. Bernard center (and former military warehouse) on the outskirts of the Valais town Martigny in the Swiss Rhone Valley. The center also houses the Musée et Chiens du Saint-Bernard founded in 2006 by the Bernard and Caroline de Watteville foundation. Exhibitions share the history of Switzerland’s national dog through informational displays of art and literature that show how local geology, zoology, religion, and politics share a common thread: the Saint Bernard. Much of the exhibition is also about the hospice at the pass of Great St Bernard and includes many nineteenth century paintings as well as items associated with the hospice.
The real reason, we suspect, that a lot of people visit the museum are the dogs!
The ground floor houses the kennels and rooms where the dogs are taken care of. The dogs’ kennels are connected to an outdoor enclosure which allow the Saint Bernards and recent litters of pups to romp freely while . being admired. More details about visiting the museum can be found here
Image by Musée saint bernard – musée et chiens du saint bernard, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9709563