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Cat Art from the Met Museum Makes the Purrfect Browser Plug-in

Meow Met showing John Kay's "The Favourite Cat and De La-Tour Painter" ( 1813) (all screenshots via the author)
Meow Met showing John Kay’s “The Favourite Cat and De La-Tour Painter” (1813) (all screenshots by the author for Hyperallergic)

One of the most common and eternal struggles of being a heavy internet user is cutting down on the number of tabs open on one’s browser. The ubiquity of hyperlinks that draws us away from original page destinations makes reducing one’s tabs down to just one a Sisyphean task; opening more tabs can be annoying, and there’s the small risk that the next page you open will be the one that causes your browser to crash. We, therefore, gladly welcome Meow Met, a new, feline-filled Chrome extension that actually turns the act of opening a tab into an enjoyable learning experience.

Created by Emily McAllister at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Media Lab, Meow Met is the purr-fect web accessory for art and cat lovers: it overrides the standard, bland tab page and instead fills the uninspiring space with a random work of cat art from the Met’s digital collection, which includes works not on view in the museum. Each work is captioned with its title and artist, and clicking through brings one to the image’s description page on the Met’s website, where you may read more about the work. Surfing the internet with Meow Met is thus a fun way to explore the Met’s trove of kitty art (which does extend beyond Egyptian statues and paintings by Balthus). In just a short period of browsing, I stumbled upon an ink drawing of a crouching tiger by Delacroix, a Flemish sketch of a sleeping cat, and this amazing 18th-century caricature of the Comte de Provence as a cat.

The only glitch with this paw-some tool is that it doesn’t resize images to fit the screen, resulting in cropped works. Additionally, refreshing a page does not result in a new work of art; rather, to see another painting, sculpture, or drawing of a cat, one has to open a new tab — which tends to increase browser clutter (and heighten pro-catination levels), as it’s just too easy to keep hitting Ctrl+T when doing so results in such delightful pictures.

Xu Gu, "Cat and Butterfly" (19th century)
Xu Gu, “Cat and Butterfly” (19th century)
Félix Bracquemond, "Cat and Crab (Decoration for a Plate)" (1850–1914)
Félix Bracquemond, “Cat and Crab (Decoration for a Plate)” (1850–1914)
Félix Bracquemond, "The Monkey and the Cat, from the Fables of La Fontaine" (1886)
Félix Bracquemond, “The Monkey and the Cat, from the Fables of La Fontaine” (1886)
Unknown, "Martha Bartlett with Kitten" (ca. 1860)
Unknown, “Martha Bartlett with Kitten” (ca. 1860)
Balthasar Anton Dunker, "Concert of Cats, after the painting in the collection of the Duc de Choiseul"
Balthasar Anton Dunker, “Concert of Cats, after the painting in the collection of the Duc de Choiseul”
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