The art of miniature portraiture stretches back to the medieval ages. Cast onto illuminated manuscripts, medals and ivory ovals, the minuscule paintings have served a myriad of purposes — with the latest being to entertain small animals.
While museum lovers cannot visit institutions, some have decided to bring the gallery to their homes by recreating beloved artworks in miniature for their pets. The makeshift galleries — complete with white walls and exhibition materials — present a wealth of fine art treasures, often replacing their human subjects with a furrier set of mammals.
In early April, a couple in London set the internet on fire by making a gallery for their pet gerbils, Pandoro and Tiramisù. The pets belong to UK-based Filippo Lorenzin (an independent curator who works at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum) and artist Marianna Benetti, who together crafted finely detailed replicas of famous works of art while in self-isolation.
Renditions of Johannes Vermeer’s “The Girl with a Pearl Earring,” Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” and Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” line the exhibition space, creating a realistic offering of fine art completed by the artistic pair. Topping off the museum experience, the gallery includes cardboard benches, a sign that reads “Please don’t chew” and wall tags. A video of the miniature museum’s “opening” shows the gerbils enjoying the art and munching on the furniture (don’t worry; it’s all gerbil-safe).
Since the gallery’s debut, the gerbils have enjoyed a well-rounded art diet by partaking in a realistic Final Fantasy video game battle (also rendered in pet-sized proportions) and appearing in a three-dimensional Easter tableau.
Inspired by the duo’s work, Texas-based Jill Young opened a gallery for her gecko, The Mayor. Similarly petite, the gallery debuted with velvet ropes, which did not stop The Mayor from latching onto the art, literally. In an interview with Hyperallergic (which has turned into a veritable source for the latest pet gallery openings), Young revealed that her gecko was most moved by her version of Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” stating, “I guess he’s in an American Modernism phase.”
GECKO MUSEUM! GECKO MUSEUM! The Mayor liked it so much he couldn’t help crossing the velvet rope pic.twitter.com/eMCvO8c6qR
— jill (@jillisyoung) April 7, 2020
Likewise taking a cue from Pandoro and Tiramisù’s lavish art lives, Rebecca Keen opened Musée de BudgerigART in Delaware for her seven birds. “Girl with a Pearl Earring” proves to be a popular choice among the pet crowd (appearing in all three pet museums), though Keen also added bird versions of Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” and Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.”
When asked what it has been like to see the gerbil museum take off and inspire other pet galleries, Lorenzin said that “it was amazing.”
“We love to see our gallery inspiring so many people around the world,” he continued. “Some of the sets we found online are rather creative, and we look forward to see[ing] other pets enjoying their personal galleries.”
What animal will get it’s own art show next? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you get inspired to create your own pet-sized gallery.
Top Image: Image from the gerbil museum. Photo: Filippo Lorenzin.