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From Vermeer to vermin: quarantined curators plan major new mouse-sized museum

A V&A employee creates a to-scale exhibition of masterpieces for his gerbils while in lockdown

Gerbils notoriously prefer Old Masters to more modern works. Filippo Lorenzin via Twitter

Quarantine seems to be stoking the fires of creativity for many, especially museum professionals stuck at home and yearning to curate something—anything—while their institutions remain closed to the public due to the coronavirus (Covid-19). An independent curator and an employee of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), Filippo Lorenzin and his partner went so far as to design a to-scale exhibition for their gerbils this past weekend, complete with rodent interpretations of works by all the great hamsters masters, such as Il Gerbilio con L’orrechino di Perla, after Vermeer’s iconic portrait of a girl with a pearl earring.

While generally rodents in museums are considered a problematic infestation, Lorenzin tells The Art Newspaper that “it was fun to play around with the white cube aesthetics and the raw energy of our gerbils” for this project. The mouse-sized museum even includes minute details such as wall labels with QR codes and a sign warning its visitors not to chew on the artworks. “We hope this will make people who are stuck at home recall good memories in museums and encourage them to support institutions in such uncertain times.”

The gallery-going gerbils, Pandoro and Tiramisu, were unavailable for comment but, like most museum tourists these days, could not refrain from posting selfies to their Instagram.