MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. — A Menomonee Falls couple is on a mission to not only set a Guinness World Record but to save as many cats as possible while doing so.
Shawn Redner and Hilary Siegel-Redner have curated the ultimate cat figurine collection. They have collected more than 13,000 cat figurines and pieces of art. They were all bought second-hand or donated to them. About half of that collection is on display inside their home they call Redner’s Rescued Cat Figurine Mewseum.
“(I) can’t even fathom the number of dollars we’ve spent on this place,” Shawn Redner said.
The number of cats on display has nearly doubled from 4,000 in 2020, to 7,000 in July 2022. They remodeled their basement to make space for more figurines. The remaining 5,000 are in storage.
Every weekend the couples cruise to different Goodwill’s, rummage sales, and flea markets to find new cats to add to their collection. There aren’t any duplicates.
“This is all we do. This museum has taken over my life,” Redner said.
On every third Sunday of the month (or fourth Sunday if there is a holiday), their home is open to visitors from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Reservations aren’t required. It costs $5 for adults, and kids 12 and under are free. If you want to come on another day, you just have to contact them to set up a tour. Send an email to [email protected] or call at (414) 215-4935.
All the proceeds are donated to local cat shelters. So far, they have raised around $2,000 since opening in August of 2020.
“We’re giving back to the community,” Siegel-Redner said.
In addition to the inanimate cats, there are eight live cats that stay in the house. They have a specially made outdoor play structure that looks like any cat’s dream.
But the goal isn’t just to send donations to local shelters. The two want to make an even bigger impact by opening a cat cafe and museum.
“My goal is to hopefully move all this into a coffee shop where we can have adoptable cats, so visitors can have a cup of coffee, hopefully bring home a cat, and then the museum will be a separate entity to the coffee shop,” Redner said.
Oddly enough, neither of the two were “cat people” growing up. Siegel-Redner didn’t even like the idea of putting up cat decorations.
“I was not on board at first. I will admit that. I also grew up with dogs,” she said.
That was back in the summer of 2018 when they first discussed buying the figurines. However, after the first wall was decorated, she was hooked.
“I’m like, you know, this is unique. It’s different. People don’t have this in their house, and how cool is it that we have a collection of different kinds of cats on our wall,” she said.
From then on, the collection has taken on a life of its own.
They’ve been aided by donations from people locally and across the country. Family members have shipped the collections of their dead relatives to the museum or donated them because they can’t keep up the maintenance. So while this collection may seem trivial to some, Redner sees it as being part of someone’s identity and history.
“It’s just a cat figurine museum on the surface, but when you get down to it, it’s Anne’s life, and Jan’s life, and Barbara’s life, and Sandra’s life. This is all part of somebody’s lives. It’s not just cat figurines. It’s them essentially,” Redner said.
The names he mentioned are people who have donated large collections. In a sense, they are curating a collection of people’s memories.
The couple still has a while to go before they break the record. According to Guinness World Records, the largest collection of cat-related items is 21,321 unique items held by Carmen De Aldana from Guatemala. However, given the fact that the two just started collecting in 2018, they seem to be on a pretty good pace to break that record.
Speaking of world record collections, there are two Wisconsin women who have the largest collections of their respective items. Deb Hoffmann of Waukesha has the largest collection of Winnie the Pooh items in the world with more than 20,000 items. Gerda Scheuers of Ripon holds the record for the largest collection of Smurf items with 11,455 unique items.
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