A celebration of Island cats and dogs is currently on display in the Spotlight Gallery at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. The exhibit, which runs through Jan. 28, features art from a variety of mediums which showcases the role of pets in the lives of Islanders since the mid 19th century.

The exhibit was inspired by a coloring book that Norman Bridwell created many years ago called The Museum Cat, in which a cat-about-town enters the museum and has a variety of adventures.

Exhibit celebrating cats and dogs is on display until Jan. 28. — Alison L. Mead

“We didn’t have anything else from him [Bridwell] other than a coloring book about a cat that apparently would just come into the buildings,” said exhibit designer Anna Carringer. “It was showing the different things in the museum that the cat would explore. He [the cat] would sneak in and they’d find him all over the place. So he is introducing people to the collections through the coloring book.”

The exhibit displays several pen and ink drawings of Clifford the Big Red Dog that Mr. Bridwell donated to the museum last year. Mr. Bridwell, an animal lover, passed away in December.

“He was so humble in the way that he approached creating this famous character,” said Linsey Lee, curator of oral history at the museum. “It was Clifford who was famous not Norman. His joy was in sharing what Clifford could give to people and he felt that way about all animals.”

Ms. Lee found several animal stories from the museum’s oral history archive, which museum visitors are able to read or listen to. An interview with John Athearn featured a story about his very faithful cat, Prince.

Claire Duys. — Linsey Lee

“Prince was an orange tiger,” he recalls in the oral history. “Prince would go and visit church. Dad sang in the choir, and during summertime when the door would be open during the service, Prince would go over. It was like he knew it was time to go to church. And he’d go over there and come walking up, his tail up like this, and you’d hear giggles as he entered, went down the aisle and looked around and rubbed against feet. Then he’d go up, sometimes, to where Dad was in the choir and hang out up there. Up the stairs into the back balcony where the choir sang.”

In addition to oral histories, there are drawings, paintings, ceramics and even a diorama. The exhibit also includes black and white photographs taken by amateur photographer Edward Lee Luce from the early part of the 20th century to the 1930s. The photographs are just a few of the 1,200 glass plate images that Basil Welch rescued, collected and organized.

“They capture West Tisbury at this point in time in such a wonderful way,” said Ms. Carringer. “People working and people hanging out in these semi-posed pictures, so many of them have their animals with them.”

The exhibit also features a voting booth where visitors can vote for cats, dogs or dogs and cats by putting a donation into corresponding plastic tubes. At the end of the exhibit, donations will be delivered to the Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard.

“People are enjoying it,” said Ms. Lee. “People’s relationships with their animals have been strong for centuries. And people show so much of themselves as they tell their stories about animals. Our dogs and our cats are a reflection of ourselves.”