Russian art museum honours its cat guards
St. Petersburg: Reminding of a less-known side to the struggle for fine arts, Russia's most visited art museum has honoured its staff felines. The Hermitage Museum employs some 60 cats that guard its three million artworks from rats and mice.
The animals' effort was honoured, among other things, by a cat drawing competition for schoolchildren, the presentation of the "Book of Record of Hermitage Cats", and the opening of a small exhibit of works by Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen, an Art Nouveau painter noted for his love of cats.
The museum is celebrating Hermitage Cat Day since 1998, but this is the first time the event was marked by a separate art exhibit.
Hermitage was established in 1764 and is best known for its collection of Old Masters, including Rembrandt, Rubens, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Caravaggio and van Dyck.
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