An Art Gallery for Gerbils: Two Quarantined Londoners Create a Mini Museum Complete with Gerbil-Themed Art

Lon­don-based cou­ple Fil­ip­po and Mar­i­an­na’s self-iso­la­tion project calls to mind artist (and muse­um cura­tor) Bill Scan­ga’s At the Met, exhib­it­ed near­ly 20 years ago as part of the group show Almost Warm and Fuzzy: Child­hood and Con­tem­po­rary Art at P.S.1 Con­tem­po­rary Art Cen­ter (now known as MoMA PS1).

Scan­ga’s instal­la­tion involved hang­ing mini-repli­cas of works from the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um’s Amer­i­can col­lec­tion on extreme­ly long wires that trav­eled from under-ceil­ing pic­ture rail to the base­board, where a col­lec­tion of art-lov­ing taxi­der­mied mice wait­ed expec­tant­ly. One rest­ed on a famil­iar-look­ing, black vinyl uphol­stered bench, a tiny blue shop­ping bag from the Met’s gift store parked near its dain­ty, shoe­less feet.

Fil­ip­po and Marianna’s art-lov­ing rodents are ger­bils, and unlike Scanga’s art­ful­ly stuffed mod­els, theirs—9‑month-old broth­ers Pan­doro and Tiramisù—are very much alive, as Tiramisù proved when he gnawed the unseen gallery assistant’s painstak­ing­ly assem­bled card­board stool to bits under the watch­ful eye of the tiny Girl with a Pearl Ear­ring fac­sim­i­le Mar­i­an­na craft­ed for his cul­tur­al enrich­ment.

A video the cou­ple pub­lished on Red­dit, above, shows the fur­ry muse­um goers scam­per­ing under the bench­es to the tune of “The Blue Danube” and plac­ing their paws on the art­work, includ­ing an expert, ger­bil-themed forgery of Gus­tav Klimt’s gold-flecked Sym­bol­ist mas­ter­piece, The Kiss.

Not to be vul­gar, but if this muse­um has a restroom, Pan­doro and Tiramisù seem to have giv­en it a miss, an impro­pri­ety sur­pass­ing any waged by the tit­u­lar char­ac­ters of Beat­rix Potter’s Tale of Two Bad Mice.

Fil­ip­po and Mar­i­an­na accept­ed the destruc­tion of their exquis­ite­ly staged set with a cheer that sug­gests they’re not shut up for the dura­tion with a small child… just ger­bils, who can be deposit­ed back into their Habi­trail when the fun’s over.

The atten­tion to detail—the gallery tags! The lam­i­nat­ed cards in mul­ti­ple lan­guages in a wall-mount­ed holder!—captured the imag­i­na­tion of Red­dit. Users jumped Marianna’s orig­i­nal post—(Quar­an­tine, day 14. Me and my boyfriend spent the whole day set­ting up an art gallery for our ger­bil)—with sug­ges­tions of oth­er famous works to recre­ate in minia­ture and add to the col­lec­tion. Rest assured no groan-wor­thy, pun-based, ger­bil-cen­tric title was left unex­pressed.

With cul­tur­al insti­tu­tions tem­porar­i­ly shut­tered for the good of pub­lic health, many view­ers also shared their yearn­ing to get back inside favorite muse­ums. (Mar­i­an­na reports that Fil­ip­po is a muse­um work­er.)

For now, we must be patient, and live vic­ar­i­ous­ly through ger­bils ’til the long wait is over.

Via Hyper­al­ler­gic

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Two Cats Keep Try­ing to Get Into a Japan­ese Art Muse­um … and Keep Get­ting Turned Away: Meet the Thwart­ed Felines, Ken-chan and Go-chan

Take a Vir­tu­al Tour of 30 World-Class Muse­ums & Safe­ly Vis­it 2 Mil­lion Works of Fine Art

14 Paris Muse­ums Put 300,000 Works of Art Online: Down­load Clas­sics by Mon­et, Cézanne & More

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Like Choir! Choir! Choir!, she has been crowd­sourc­ing art in iso­la­tion, most recent­ly a hasti­ly assem­bled trib­ute to the clas­sic 60s social line dance, The Madi­son. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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