There’s a Fair Upstairs,

or Why Toy Dogs Aren’t Allowed in the Museum

A small dog in a bag

Photo by Gertraud Zimmermann from an article on

Some time ago an entire extended family from Berlin wanted to visit the Jewish Museum Berlin, with grandma and the whole kit and caboodle—including their toy dog Choux-Choux. Heading in towards the permanent exhibition, every member of the family passed through the ticket check smoothly … except the father. This well-built gentleman was carrying a little bag under his arm—with a tiny dog peaking out of it.

The museum’s hosts amiably informed the patriarch that the dog was permitted in the lobby and museum garden, but not in the exhibitions. They did not, however, encounter much forbearance and a heated discussion ensued. The argument went, “This is a toy dog. He’s allowed everywhere!” The surprised hosts, who had up till that moment never heard the term ‘toy dog,’ followed up on the unresolved question: why in fact couldn’t Choux-Choux come into the museum?

After all, the dog managed to get through the security check unscathed. Had he needed to hand over his weapons? Or did he ask for a special dog discount at the ticket counter and they’d refused to give it to him? Or should he have checked his bag at the coat check? No, none of these were reasons to deny him entrance to the museum. The house rules simply forbid animals—for entirely conservation reasons—from visiting the exhibitions.

Abita Stage Purse Chihuahua

Photo: Ray Devlin (originally posted to Flickr as Abita Stage) CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The hosts suggested that the family patriarch could wait with Choux-Choux in the museum garden or café while the rest of the family visited the museum. But this idea was rejected. Understandably, they didn’t want to leave the dog tied to a street lamp out in front of the building—in any case also forbidden by the house rules. In short, no agreement was reached, so the entire family received their money back for the tickets and their museum visit, next time without Choux-Choux, was postponed to a later date.

In his passionate advocacy for the cultural education of his toy dog, the father of the family also referred to the museum’s website. The dog prohibition wasn’t mentioned on it anywhere—until now. With our general note on pets we hope to prevent misunderstandings and avoid conflict with any visitors who would have wished to visit the museum with their toy cats, toy hamsters, or any other miniature pets. Exceptions are made of course for guide and other assistance dogs: these are allowed in. Choux-Choux unfortunately doesn’t fall in this category. We hope that he’ll recover from not getting the chance to learn on site about Jewish history.

Doreen Tesche, Media

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