Nine-month old brothers Pandoro and Tiramisù survey London’s newest art institution, The Gerbil Museum (photos courtesy museum trustees Filippo and Marianna)

Pandoro and Tiramisù are not your ordinary gerbils. The London-based pair got a special surprise when their owners, Filippo and Marianna, created a miniature museum  just for them during the current COVID-19 quarantine.

Since a photo was published on Twitter this past weekend, the miniature museum has started to go viral. I had to ask the duo about their adorable structure, which was erected as most museums across the UK remain closed. Both Filippo and Marianna are art lovers, with one working in a local museum and the other as an artist and writer. The gerbils declined to comment.

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Hyperallergic: Tell us about your gerbils!

Filippo and Marianna: They are 9-month-old brothers and their names are Pandoro and Tiramisù. Pandoro is tawny while Tiramisù is the taupe one.

H: Have they demonstrated a love of art before?

F&M: Not really, this was their first time in a museum. They much enjoyed the display and paid close attention to the quality of the gallery’s props. They can’t read so the sign to advise the visitors to not chew [on the furniture] went completely unnoticed. Overall, it seemed to be a satisfying and engaging experience.

A view of the museum before their private owners arrive to survey the galleries

H: How did you choose the paintings?

F&M: Initially we wanted to select less famous paintings but in the end we thought it would have been funnier and more engaging to choose some of the best known works in art history. The ones we remade can be identified by almost anyone and it was just fun to paint them. Furthermore, Marianna is very good at painting and I couldn’t help but wonder how “The Kiss” and “Girl with a Pearl Earring” could have look like with a gerbil twist.

H: Are those your gerbils in each image?

F&M: They are always the same two gerbils, Pandoro and Tiramisù.

Pandoro and Tiramisù smiling for the cameras during opening night.

H:  Did Pandoro and Tiramisù enjoy the opening of their private museum?

F&M: Initially they explored the gallery space looking for clues about the rather eclectic selection of artworks. After a while, boredom and a certain love for disruptive gestures grew to a point they managed to start a performance by chewing the empty gallery assistant’s stool — an act that we were lucky enough to film. We still don’t know what’s (or whether there is) a title for such a work.

H: Is this a complicated ploy to write off your gerbils on your taxes?

F&M: Maybe yes, although they are not very expensive. As long as we have seeds and mini gallery assistants’ stools we are good.

The Gerbil Museum’s first “acquisitions”

As promised, this is the full video of our gerbils visiting the museum. No gerbils or gallery assistants were harmed in the making of this. from r/aww

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

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