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Collector expands Lucky Cat Museum in Walnut Hills

Collector expands Lucky Cat Museum in Walnut Hills (WKRC)

WALNUT HILLS, Ohio (WKRC) - The Essex Studios in Walnut Hills houses one of the most unusual museums in the Tri-State.

Mischa Robertson's huge collection of lucky cats grew too big for her home so she's sharing it. "I've always collected cat stuff and about 12 years ago I started focusing on collecting the maneki neko, or the lucky cats."

Mischa Robertson's collection grew so much that she didn't have any space left. So she moved to the Essex Studios in 2014.

Her space has grown to add a gift shop and a spot to show off artists' take on the little cats. "This is one of my favorite parts because I'm getting to share these artists, mostly from Japan but there's some from around the world, to an audience that would normally never see them."

There's a fascinating story behind the cats. They're not actually waving. "In Japan, when you want someone to come to you it's not this way, it's palm down."

The origin of the lucky cat first started in Japan. "One day, this horrible storm started and a nobleman named Nawataka was traveling the countryside and he takes shelter under a tree to wait out the storm. While he's under the tree he notices a temple in the distance and the temple cat comes out. He thinks, that's weird, the cat is beckoning me. So, he leaves the shelter of the tree and approaches the cat. As soon as he reaches the temple, lightning struck the tree."

The nobleman, realizing the cat saved his life, dedicated the temple to the cat. And the legend stuck. "The earliest they've been able to date lucky cats is 1852 because of a particular painting that shows a merchant selling lucky cat statues."

Mischa got her first lucky cat 15 years ago. It's a pre-war piece dating back decades that she paid $2 for when she worked at the Goodwill store in Cheviot. The rest she got through successful bids.

It's pretty safe to say Mischa's collection will just keep growing.

Hours of her museum are 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

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