LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com)  —  To fans of Hello Kitty, this news couldn’t be any more purr-fect.

The international icon is taking over, literally, a downtown Los Angeles museum.

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The Hello Kitty exhibit is so massive, the people who run the Japanese American National Museum on North Central Avenue have had to hire additional staff to handle the sold-out shows.

KCAL9’s Amy Johnson got a free sneak preview of “Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty” on Friday.

The Hello Kitty craze all started 40 years ago with a small vinyl coin purse in Japan. The exhibit features more than 500 different Hello Kitty items. Translation: you name it, you can find the Hello Kitty icon on it.

“I think it’s because she has always appealed to so many ages and backgrounds. She is very Zen-like in her disposition,” said Janet Hsu, president and COO of Sanrio Inc. “Everyone is able to make Hello Kitty your own friend.”

“We are thrilled to originate it here. We’ve brought in a couple of wonderful curators to tell the story of Hello Kitty as a character and a product and also a curator to tell the story of Hello Kitty as a muse for artists,” said Greg Kimura, president and CEO of the Japanese American Museum.

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There is lots of Kitty bling, lunchboxes, dolls, contemporary and pop art, even a Hello Kitty dress once worn by Lady Gaga.

“It helps give different viewpoints through the artists’ eyes, of how they see Hello Kitty. It helps the adult fan reinforce why they like Hello Kitty and gives them something to identify with,” said Jamie Rivadeneira, a contemporary art curator.

Whether fans see Hello Kitty as a cat or a girl (and the debate continues) she was officially born 40 years ago as Kitty White. She has a twin sister, Mimi, who has a yellow bow. Kitty and her family live in England, and if it seems like there is a cult following, there is.

“I won’t say that everyone feels the same way about her,” said Christine Yano, a retrospective curator, “but there are people who consider her, dare I say it? a kind of a religion.” Yano is also author of “Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty’s Trek Across the Pacific.”

The exhibit opens to the public Saturday and runs through April of next year.

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For more about the exhibit, click here.