In Astoria, NY, the Museum of the Moving Image opened a visual art exhibition on How Cats Took Over the Internet, where it examines the phenomenon of cats on the web and how cats became so popular online. This museum is open August 7, 2015–January 31, 2016. So if you happen to be in Astoria, NY between now and the end of January, you can discover the history of cats online at this Museum.
The exhibition — which may well be the first mainstream museum installation entirely dedicated to cats online — is made up mostly of images, videos and GIFs of cats and is meant to be a cultural deconstruction of their enduring popularity.
The cornerstone of the exhibition is a 20-year timeline that traces the history of cats on the Internet to 1995, when a news group — a bulletin-board-type online community that was an early form of social media — coalesced around the members’ love of cats. From this began Meowchat, where people swapped role-playing messages posing as their cats, talking in a kitty baby talk.
“Even as far back as 1991, 1995, there was a whole community of cat lovers who found each other online and was doing creative things,” said Mr. Eppink, 31, who does not own a cat and whose title at the museum is associate curator of digital media. “They were being performative and creative.”
The exhibition reaches back even further, showing what cat video historians believe was the very first example of the genre: a Kinetoscope shot by Thomas Edison in 1894, of two cats in a boxing ring sparring with gloves.