Internet Cat Video Festival: Cincinnati Art Museum spotlights felines old and new

Festivities usher in new 'Divine Felines' exhibit
Posted at 9:00 AM, Jun 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-18 09:00:08-04

There are two kinds of people in this world – those who love to watch cat videos on the Internet and those who … oh, who are we kidding? There’s only one type of person in this world.

Heck, even people who don’t particularly like cats still find time to check out those viral videos of felines knocking breakable objects off countertops, scaring dogs into pools and generally just projecting an endlessly entertaining aura of goofy/aloof/gangster attitude.

And so, unsurprisingly, in 2012 the folks at Minneapolis’ Walker Art Museum dreamed up the Internet Cat Video Festival. It comes to Cincinnati for the first time on June 24-25, and the staff of the Cincinnati Art Museum expects people to pounce at the opportunity.

“In Minneapolis they have 10,000 people attend the video festival,” said Jill Dunne, director of marketing and communications for CAM. “We’re not anticipating that, but we think we’ll have a great crowd. People are really excited and talking about it.”

The centerpiece of the festival is an hourlong video composed of about 100 clips curated from thousands of competition entries. Will we see cats sneaking snacks from drawers and running full force into screen doors? Will superstars like Lil BUB and Grumpy Cat make an appearance? Soon, the answers will be clear.

Festival Helps Welcome New Exhibit

The video festival is part of a whole host of quirky and creative activities the Cincinnati Art Mewseum (Dunne said the staff has been having a ball pushing the pun boundaries) has planned to coincide with its new cat-themed exhibition, “Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt,” which runs Saturday through Sept. 11.

CAM is the first to host the exhibition from the Brooklyn Museum. "Divine Felines" features 80 representations of cats, lions and other felines and explores their role in Egyptian mythology and everyday life, said Julie Aronson. The curator of CAM, Aronson is a longtime volunteer for no-kill cat shelter Save the Animals Foundation and the owner of three house cats.

“We’ve been looking for shows of antiquities and hadn’t had one in a while,” said Aronson. “This is a high-quality exhibition of antiquities and also something that’s very readily accessible to everyone. It will have a lot of appeal to children, and it would appeal to anyone who is interested in mythology, world religions and history, and anyone who loves sculpture.”

In other words, you don’t have to love cats to enjoy “Divine Felines,” although it certainly won’t hurt. There’s even a small section of the exhibition dedicated to dogs, which Egyptians began keeping as pets as early as 5,000 B.C. But cats are the stars of the show.

“A lot of the things that appealed to ancient Egyptians are what appeal to us now – cats offer wonderful companionship but still have a bit of the wild,” said Aronson. “They’re beautiful and athletic but have that independence. They’re artistically appealing but quirky.”

A Brush with the Wild

Cat lovers who enjoy that wild appeal will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with a cheetah during another special event related to “Divine Felines.” An adult female cheetah from the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden’s Cat Ambassador Program will visit the museum’s Art After Dark: Cats and Cocktails event June 24.

Senior cat ambassador trainer Alicia Sampson said she will offer a presentation about the cheetah and answer questions, and cat lovers will be able to take pictures of (but not touch) the cheetah.

“I can talk all day about cheetahs, but if there’s one actually in front of you, it makes a big impression,” she said. “Hopefully it’ll get people excited about conservation and trying to protect this cat.”

Get Your Tail to These Events

  • "Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt": June 18-Sept. 11. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays. Free admission.
  • Internet Cat Video Festival: 9:15 p.m. June 24, Seasongood Pavilion, 950 Eden Park Drive; 11 a.m. June 25, Cincinnati Art Museum’s Fath Auditorium. Free admission.
  • Art After Dark: Cats and Cocktails: 5-9 p.m. June 24. Cincinnati Art Museum. Featuring a tour of the exhibition, specialty cat-inspired cocktails, a performance by band Young Heirlooms and a visit from a cheetah.