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Onomichi Museum
Art lovers, or hooligans?
LET THEM IN

Two cats have spent two years trying to get into a Japanese art museum

By Natasha Frost

It may have been the seductive call of museum-grade air conditioning. It may, as the museum’s curator suggests, have been a glimpse through the windows of friendly-looking black cats in a photo exhibition. It may simply have been feline curiosity.

Whatever the reason, in the summer of 2016, the security guards of the Onomichi City Museum of Art in Hiroshima, Japan, found themselves fending off an irrepressible visitor: a sleek, black tomcat.

Named Ken-chan by the museum staff, the cat has spent the last two years trying to sneak through the museum’s glass doors. He’s no closer to making it in, but he has brought in reinforcements. Now, as the Guardian reports, there are two cats trying to make their way into the Onomichi City Museum of Art: Ken-Chan and his stately ginger friend, known as Go-chan.

The two male cats have made trying to visit the museum their principal pastime. Almost every day, they will hover by the automatic doors, before being gently ushered out by a white-gloved security guard. And though they’re no closer to making it in to see the art (and the cat-themed show has long since moved on), they’ve now attained a certain amount of internet stardom.

The museum regularly posts videos of the cats and their stand-offs with the guards. Photographs by tourists and locals have traveled around the globe. The cats have even inspired a range of merchandise for the museum, though their new-found celebrity has made it hard to keep up with demand.

Many of the museum’s 45,000 Twitter followers are pushing for it to grant the cats admission. But quite aside from the no-animals rule, Go-chan and Ken-chan may simply be struggling to stump up the minimum 300 yen ($2.65) admission fee. They have no real employment other than trying to sneak into the museum and being internet celebrities. And they have no pockets in which to carry cash—they’re cats, after all. For now, their only option is criminality: sneaking in, or raiding the kitty.