By John David Back
First of all, it’s insane to me how free the Cincinnati Art Museum is. By that I mean you don’t actually have to pay anything to go there.
You walk in the front door and grab a map or ask one of the enthusiastic young women at the desk for advice and you’re off. There is no exchange of cash for goods. So, when a new exhibit comes and you think it’s interesting, the only thing you’re out is a little bit of time you’d normally spend playing Candy Crush on your couch.
If Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt has one thing, it’s cat-related puns. Purrfect. Meowtain. The exhibit itself, the actual pieces of art, are generally what you’d find in any display on ancient Egypt. There are small statues and beads, a large sarcophagus and a small Sphinx. What makes this exhibit different is the approach to specifically highlight kitties.
It’s common knowledge (right?) that the ancient Egyptians adored and worshiped felines. Whether or not current Egyptians do is unknown to me.
Divine Felines explained how there were several goddesses, all in feline form, who were the daughters of the sun god Re. This fact explains why cats are always found lying in the sun. It also explains why I saw an intricately crafted sarcophagus that was especially made for a cat. I don’t own a cat, but even if I did, I don’t think I’d use rudimentary tools from 3,000 years ago to hand-carve and paint a coffin for it at its passing. I’d find a Nike box, write a brief, misspelled eulogy, and bury it in my mom’s yard.
The thing I like the most about the exhibit, which is traveling from the Brooklyn Museum, is how it made typical pieces seem interesting and applicable to modern times. People love cats. The Internet is literally obsessed with those apathetic, claw-wielding couch-tyrants. So while they snuck some learning in, you really do experience it in a new way. It was like when you’re a kid and your mom gives you sugar and cough medicine.
Divine Felines exits into another cat exhibit, Modern Cat, which basically exists to show you that the Japanese have been obsessed with cats since long before the World Wide Web.
Overall, I want to go again just because it’s easy, admission is free (parking is only four bucks), and there’s still an entire museum of things to check out.
I also highly, strongly recommend 30 Americans, also at CAM through Aug. 28.