has visited a Japanese or Chinese restaurant and was greeted by a
statue of a cat holding up or waving its paw. This is the Maneki
Neko, a lucky charm originating in Edo era Japan, said to bring
prosperity to those displaying it. These beckoning felines (maneki
= to beckon, neko = cat) are often referred to as Lucky or Fortune
Cats. They have become a pop culture icon around the world.
More information about their history and meaning can be found on
Maneki Neko" page.
Inside our house in 2009
have always collected cat themed merchandise, but began focusing
on Maneki Neko a little over twelve years ago. At first they filled a
shelf on a bookcase in our study. They expanded onto their own
bookcase, shelves, displays, etc until they claimed an entire wall
to themselves. In August of 2012, my friend and coworker Eva
approached me about sharing space at Cincinnati's Essex Studios, a
former clothing factory turned artist collective. Another friend,
Jenn, joined us. The timing was perfect, as a family member
temporarily moved in with us and we needed to make room. At the
Essex, my third of the small space was devoted to the
hundreds of Maneki Neko. My place of employment, a retail party
supply store called
Cappels, was generous enough to sell me
several large and small display cases they were no longer using at
a very affordable cost.
Inside our house in 2011
The Lucky Cat Museum opened during the
October 2012 ArtWalk (when many of the studios open their doors
and outside artists set up in the hallways). Since then the
collection keeps getting bigger! Eva moved on to a different
studio space. Jenn still makes her unique jewelry and wearable
curiosities, but also helps out with the Museum. Mikaila joined
the crew as a volunteer docent and brought with her a big
beautiful ball of white fluff named
Jefferson. He served as our official mascot, greeting
visitors during Artwalks or special events until his
passing in 2020.
Amy first volunteered in
September 2017 and has been invaluable ever since!
The Lucky Cat Museum is
open to the public, by appointment, Tuesday-Saturday from 3:00pm-6:00pm.
During Essex ArtWalks, held two-four times a year, the Museum
is open 3:00pm-10:00pm. Our hours are short so I am able
to still work my regular job before opening the Museum to
Here's a short video of the opening night:
Moving in, August 2012