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Seated Wadjet. From Egypt. Late Period, Dynasty 26 to Dynasty 31, 664–332 B.C.E. Bronze, 2012 x 478 x 912 in. (52.1 × 12.4 × 24.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 36.622

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Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt

From domesticated cats to mythic symbols of divinity, felines played an important role in ancient Egyptian imagery for thousands of years. Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt explores the role of cats, lions, and other feline creatures in Egyptian mythology, kingship, and everyday life through nearly eighty different representations of cats from the Brooklyn Museum’s world-famous Egyptian collection. Likely first domesticated in ancient Egypt, cats were revered for their fertility and motherly care. Cats were essential for their ability to protect homes and granaries from vermin. The protective and dangerous qualities of larger felines symbolized royalty and a number of gods.

The exhibition examines the duality of feline nature with objects such as the large limestone sculpture of a recumbent lion (305–30 B.C.E.), a diminutive bronze sphinx of King Sheshenq (945–718 B.C.E.), a cast-bronze figurine of a cat nursing four kittens (664–30 B.C.E.), and cat-shaped wooden coffins for cat mummies (664–332 B.C.E.). Also included are images of feline deities, amulets, and luxury items decorated with feline features. A small section of the exhibition also looks at the role of dogs and jackals in ancient Egypt.

Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt is organized by Yekaterina Barbash, Associate Curator of Egyptian Art, Brooklyn Museum.

Tour Schedule with Dates

Brooklyn Museum, New York

July 24, 2013–November 29, 2015

Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio

June 17–September 11, 2016

Dallas Museum of Art, Texas

October 9, 2016–January 8, 2017

McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture, Knoxville, Tennessee

February 3–May 7, 2017

Smithsonian's Freer | Sackler, Washington, D.C.

October 14, 2017–January 15, 2018

Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

February 10–November 11, 2018