It is a tired maxim that the Internet basically exists to help us find pictures of cats. That particular search just got a lot easier—and a lot classier—thanks to Meow Met, a new Chrome extension. Designed by Emily McAllister for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Media Lab, Meow Met shows you a cat-related picture from the museum’s collection every time you open up a new tab. As Hyperallergic’s Claire Voon writes, the extension makes ordinary browser usage “into an enjoyable learning experience.”
Among other things, Meow Met offers an important reminder that our contemporary passion for depictions of our feline friends has deep historical origins. Most of the pictures it presents derive from the 19th century, but a few are much, much older. Those of more recent provenance vary delightfully in style and approach, from a charming Qing dynasty scroll of a cat pawing at butterflies to a more sinister oil painting by Gwen John.
As Voon notes, the extension doesn’t resize the artworks to fit within the browser window. It does, however, crop them in a way that almost always spotlights the cat (or cats! or kittens!), ensuring that users never come away from a new tab disappointed. What’s more, clicking on the work’s title pulls up its entry in the Met’s digital catalog, offering a fuller view for those unsatisfied with adorable fragments.
As Olivia B. Waxman notes in an article on Meow Met for Time, “The plug-in is the latest example of how museums have taken to curating cat art to attract snake person visitors.” Wait, snake person? That can’t be right. I think I may have too many Chrome extensions installed.