The works on display at the Indianapolis Museum of Art this weekend will be decidedly more awwwww-inspiring than normal.

One of the most popular forms of online time-wasting is getting its own museum treatment. The museum will host its first Internet Cat Video Festival on Friday and Saturday, featuring a curated collection of the Web’s best feline-focused videos shown on the big screen.

The festival screenings will be 7 p.m. Friday and 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday at the museum’s Toby Theater. Tickets are $8 for members, $10 for the general public.

The special guest will be Bloomington’s own Lil BUB, whose unique physical appearance and the dedication of her owner to work to help special needs animals has garnered her own movie, music album, book and tour.

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A meet-and-greet before the screenings will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with admission $55. The cost goes to support Lil Bub’s BIG Fund, a fund for special-needs pets through the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Scott Stulen, a curator of special events at the museum and original founder of the cat video festival, explained what to expect from this unique event.

Why is this something that the museum wanted to feature?

There’s something about seeing a video you’ve watched by yourself and seeing it with 500 people. We don’t have enough moments that are in the now and are about joy. You don’t have to view this through an ironic lens or the critical lens of the museum. We can just enjoy it as a cat video. That’s all it is.

How did this come to be?

I founded the Internet Cat Video Festival in 2012 at the Walker Arts Center (in Minneapolis, Minnesota). It grew out of an experimental platform where we were looking at things we normally wouldn’t do at a museum.

Why cat videos?

The original idea came out of the idea of taking viral videos, like you’d watch on your computer or your phone, but watch them as a group together. We took them offline and would turn it into a social event. Cats seemed like an obvious choice.

Going into it, what were your expectations?

I seriously thought we’d have a couple hundred people show up, as a novelty thing and go on with their day. It went viral in about three hours after I wrote a blog post about it, and by that afternoon we were talking with Time magazine, the L.A. Times, things like that. We did the first event that year, and 10,000 people showed up.

Why do you think it was so popular?

Having the high-low of cat videos and an art museum is irresistible to people. There was a novelty that kicked up, but people were really into this idea. It shone a light on this kind of “cat culture” that existed there but didn’t have an organized event to pull it together.

Did you envision this festival as something that would carry on?

I thought it was going to be a one-off. When I got back to my desk that night after it was over, I had phone calls from other cities and places wanting to bring it there. So I embarked on a mini-tour to see if it would tour. Then there became interest to doing it again. The next year, we had 13,000 people there, and it’s been going ever since.

What is the festival like?

What’s interesting is the audience that it draws. You might be expecting the stereotypical “crazy cat lady” and yes, there’s some of that. But it’s far more diverse. It’s everything from families to hipsters to people who run design firms to retirees. Some people will come dressed up, some people come to enjoy it, but far more people come to not only celebrate these videos but celebrating like-minded people.

— Compiled by Ryan Trares,

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Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2727.