In North Adams, a museum dedicated to dogs is unleashed to the public
NORTH ADAMS — David York is turning North Adams into a city for "dog people."
Dozens of men, women, children and a few canines toured the Museum of Dog during its grand opening Saturday, checking out an extensive collection of antique dog collars dating to the 1700s and marveling at pieces of a Jeep Wrangler that York's 11-year-old Weimaraner, Daisy, has destroyed.
The museum, which has been open to the public for about a month, organized its grand opening to coincide with the statewide ArtWeek.
"When my daughter comes to visit, she often brings her dogs," said Elaine Nickerson of North Adams. "We're often looking for places that we can bring our dogs."
Museum of Dog is that kind of place.
As families toured the main gallery, located in the former Quinn's Wallpaper and Paint building on Union Street, they struck up conversations with other visitors about their own dogs.
York, who grew up in Memphis, Tenn., and started his career developing private-label merchandise, including the Aeropostale brand, has loved dogs all of his life.
While growing up, his family took in retired police dogs at its farm north of Memphis.
After selling his family business, the Tennessee chain restaurant H.R.H. Dumplins in the 1990s, York started traveling more, but discovered how difficult it was to do with dogs.
York then opened Barking Hound Village, a chain of doggie day care and boarding facilities.
"I started the dog motel about 22 years ago, and that's when I really started collecting," York said Saturday, while pointing out one of his favorite treasures, a dog carved out of a single piece of wood from the land of his Connecticut home more than 200 years ago.
Opening the museum in North Adams allowed York to display all of his pieces of canine-related art, including a bulldog pop art piece by Marc Tetro that hung in the Central Perk coffee shop on the set of "Friends."
The museum also features rotating exhibits.
On Saturday, John Klien, a metal fabrication instructor at McCann Technical School, brought one of several metal sculpture of dogs created by his students.
The collection, which includes about eight sculptures of dog silhouettes, will be sent to the United Kingdom and later displayed at a sculpture park at York's family farm.
York, a longtime philanthropist, learned about the value of vocational schools like McCann's and provided all five graduating metal fabrication students this year with $2,000 scholarships.
The museum isn't the end to York's work in North Adams.
He recently leased the former Brewhaha on Marshall Street and expects to open a restaurant, Bowlin on the River, along with two food trucks to be located at riverside parking and near the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, York said.
The restaurant's patio will, of course, be dog-friendly.
Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at email@example.com.
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