Gerbils Tiramisu and Pandoro ignored the tiny signs and immediately started chewing the art upon entering the gallery

By Hilary Shenfeld
April 21, 2020 04:05 PM

What do two art lovers with two gerbil pets do with hours to spare while in novel coronavirus (COVID-19) quarantine in London? Make a gerbil art gallery of course.

The result is a miniature exhibition space highlighted by reimagined versions of some of the world’s most legendary paintings, swapping in gerbils as the subjects.

Behold “Gerbil with a Pearl Earring,” a riff of Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” faithfully executed in acrylic paint with a serene-looking gerbil wearing the blue and gold headscarf, along with the gold jacket with a white collar peeking out and, of course, a large pearl earring, all mirroring the original.

The gallery also displays detailed tiny reproductions of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” with a gerbil, paws cradling its horrified face, rendered in crayon; Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” with two gold robed gerbils done in acrylic; and Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” this one a crayon version.

Filippo Lorenzin and Marianna Bennetti

“Initially we wanted to remake less famous paintings,” Filippo Lorenzin, who created the gallery with his long-time girlfriend, Marianna Benetti, tells PEOPLE. “But then we thought it would have been fun to play with how famous and recognizable some artworks are.”

Filippo Lorenzin and Marianna Bennetti

The pair spent about four hours creating their masterpieces as well as wall labels complete with QR codes, cardboard seating benches, a tiny wall box with flag-coded gallery maps and a tall-legged visitor’s stool.

Filippo Lorenzin and Marianna Bennetti

Despite the minute attention to detail, it seems that 9-month-old gerbil brothers Tiramisu (the gray one) and Pandoro are not very discerning art patrons. Upon first entering the gallery, the furry visitors immediately began scrambling through the museum sniffing and pawing the walls, knocking over the visitor’s stool, blithely disregarding the “Do Not Chew” sign and rapturously gnawing on the stool legs.

“They couldn’t care less about the paintings,” Lorenzin says. “And we loved it.”

Filippo Lorenzin and Marianna Bennetti

Seeing as both gerbils are “rather independent animals,” their reaction was no surprise. Though the brothers “love to spend time together chewing, sleeping and eating,” he says, Pandoro is “always looking for new exciting adventures,” while Tiramisu is “rather quiet and gluttonous.”

Both art lovers, Lorenzin, 30, who works as a private art curator and in the membership office of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, and Benetti, 30, who works in retail, say they created their gerbil museum just for fun.

Filippo Lorenzin and Marianna Bennetti

“We would have spent that Sunday making the art gallery no matter if in quarantine or not,” Lorenzin says. “It wasn’t done out of boredom.”

Not wanting to be seen as cultural rubes, other pets are also getting in on the animal art gallery trend, including a gecko, a turtle, birds, and a guinea pig.

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