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MUSEUM of An interview with Shelley Traywick, Museum of Animals Board of Directors


“The National Museum of Animals & Society is far more than just another fabulous, professionally-curated museum with extraordinary, thought-provoking displays intended to enrich the Los Angeles Arts Community; it is a critically impactful next step in the development of a meaningful theory of change and a complete philosophical/academic approach to protecting our non-human partners on this planet.  Every great movement has its theoreticians and its philosophers, as well as excellent researchers; the National Museum of Animals & Society is a pivotal force for developing the ongoing intellectual history of Animal Rights and a greater vision of a planet in which all its inhabitants are inherently valued.  As a rabbi committed to the well-being of all life and living in Los Angeles, I am elated, and feel blessed to know that the National Museum of Animals & Society, with its talented staff and leadership, will accompany my work and ultimately strengthen our movement for compassion toward all living beings.” What is the National Museum of Animals & Society? NMAS was the brainchild of our founder and director, Carolyn Mullin. The museum was started as a result of the realization that the Animal Protection Movement was the last major social movement which didn’t have a museum dedicated to its cause. NMAS is the first museum of its kind and it seeks to nurture humanity’s legacy of compassion for animals through humane education programming for all ages. Tell us a little about the history of the museum. NMAS was founded in 2010 and began as on online museum. However, we quickly moved into our first physical space which was located on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. In that gallery, we held six diverse and thoughtful exhibitions and hosted innovative and educational programs and events. With impressive public support, we quickly outgrew that space. So we decided to temporarily close our doors for a few months and focus all of our energy on fundraising, which will enable us to move into our new, much larger facility along Museum Row on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. We will open the new gallery in the fall of 2015. What is the goal of the museum? Our goal is to educate and enlighten people. We want a kinder, more compassionate world that celebrates animals as sentient beings who are deserving of our attention, understanding and respect. We want to honor the inherent value of the animals with whom we share the planet. We have big plans for our new space and we believe that a museum of this caliber, in such a prestigious location, will promote the credibility and legitimacy of the Animal Protection Movement as a whole, and will bring it into the mainstream. Give us some examples of the museum’s past exhibits? Some examples of past exhibitions include: “Be Kind – A Visual History of Human Education”, “My Dog is My Home – The Experience of Human-Animal Homelessness”, “Light in Dark Places – Anti-Vivisection from Victorian Era to Modern Day”, and “Elephant – Forget me Not”. We also hosted numerous educational and motivational events. And what about future exhibits? We will continue to present animal protection issues through world-class curating in a palatable, viewer-friendly manner. Our new facility will allow us space to present our permanent exhibit “Animal Protection: An American Movement,” which addresses topics including, “Pet overpopulation and the need for spay and neuter laws”, “Wildlife concerns and conservation”, “Factory farming and alternative food sources”, “Animals in entertainment”, “Animals in Fashion”, “Cosmetic testing and alternative testing methods”. We will also host rotating exhibits such as our upcoming “Crazy Cat Ladies” and “Religion & Animals”. This new space will enable us to offer even more educational events such as film screenings, lectures, receptions, panel discussions, classes, and field trips. What else can we expect from the museum? Well, many people don’t know that the Animal Protection Movement has a long and rich history. This history will now have a home. The museum will actively continue its collection of artifacts, archives, oral histories and research materials from around the world. This will ensure that the museum will serve as the preeminent storehouse for the Animal Protection Movement, domestic and abroad. Also, as a premier research institute, it will provide unique resources to scholars, educators and the general public. Have you received support from the public? Our support has been overwhelming. We have experienced excellent attendance at all of our exhibit openings. We have welcomed visitors from not only across the country, but from around the world. We have gotten the support of many celebrities and community leaders. We are very proud to be working with many of the leading animal protection groups in the country. This level of support is what spurred us to open our new facility. We will now have the opportunity to reach many more people, from all walks of life, and for generations to come. Tell us about your leadership team.

And finally, tell us about your fundraising gala taking place on June 6th. Yes, we are very excited about our gala, which starts at 6:30 pm on June 6th. It is being held in the beautiful Regency Ballroom at the Olympic Collection in West Los Angeles. We will start with a cocktail reception on a city-view terrace, followed by a gourmet sit-down dinner. We will have celebrity presenters and guests. We will honor Moby – Musician, Artist and Restauranteur, Tracey Bregman – Emmy Award winning actress, as well as the founding members of START Rescue – Adam Tarshis, Rene Ruston, and Steve Spiro. We will have live entertainment in the form of music, comedy and magic. There will also be live and silent auctions with fabulous items. We encourage everyone to attend. You can purchase tickets online at, or by calling Heather at (310) 887-6700.

Photo: Emily Goodman

We have a fabulous team which includes employees, volunteers, an active board of directors, and an honorary board. These individuals offer a wide range of experience and talent, and come from arenas such as museum management, advocacy, legislation, business, finance, and education. We also have an advisory council which includes academics who are the premier leaders in the fields of animal sentience and welfare. We are a cohesive team, all supporting the concept that humane education can heal the planet.

Local philanthropists Diane Burnett, Gala host Bobi Leonard, Cindy Landon and Tracey Bregman with Andrea Kichaven, Kandy Lozano and Board member Shelley Traywick.

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