Swedish art group ‘AnonyMouse’ installs detailed, miniature displays around Boston
The roughly 8-inch-tall display, which features “The Mouzette,” a make-believe newsagent and confectionary; and the “Massachusetts Mouseum of Fine Art,” complete with tiny framed paintings just beyond its small windows, is the latest installation of an incognito project that first began around six years ago in Europe, capturing worldwide attention.
“Good morning, America,” the group wrote on Instagram last Friday, when they posted a picture of the highly detailed model for their 174,000 followers. “So, we’ve made it across the pond, and where else to lay anchor than in the promised land of Moussachusetts. Where exactly? Well, that’s for us to know and you to find out! let the games begin!”
But it didn’t take long for sleuths to solve the case and for excitement about the pint-sized project to build.
Anus a curious fan shared the Instagram post about the display on Twitter, and it was featured on Universal Hub, people were quick to pinpoint the model’s precise location. (The Globe has chosen to preserve the mystery — happy hunting).
But there were more, and eagle-eyed residents soon began spotting other ground-level structures. One was found in Lynnfield this week, and a third was seen hiding in plain sight, at ankle height, in Chestnut Hill, said Patty Neal.
“We were just walking around and it was very busy [in the area] with all the US Open golf activities, and we almost walked right past it,” said Neal, who lives in West Roxbury. “But I stopped my husband and said, “’Look, it’s a little mouse-house!’”
The display featured the “Mousachusetts Fire Brigade,” a two-sided fire station fit for mouse-sized first responders. The copper-roofed building was adjacent to a used books and antique maps shop for mice, called “Anatoles,” which had tiny merchandise displayed in its front window. (The name of the store is likely a reference to the children’s book series about a mouse named “Anatole”).
“I took pictures to show my kids because it was just adorable,” said Neal, who marveled at its impressive features. “It had a lot of detail and it kind of brightened up our day. Everything seems a little stressful right now and it was just really sweet.”
AnonymousMouse posted about the firehouse on Sunday, a few days after announcing the project’s arrival in the United States, writing, “Let’s continue our Bostonian odyssey with a little fire station and [an] antiquarian book seller!”
A representative for the group said by email that the collective brought their work here at the invitation of Chestnut Hill-based developer WS Development.
“It’s always been a dream of ours to be able to construct something in America, and a few years ago we did a little record store in Sweden which apparently caught the eyes of a company called WS Development,” they said.
A spokesperson for WS Development confirmed the partnership and said that additional miniature installations can be found in several other locations owned and operated by the company.
In all, there are 10 tiny street scenes at five of the company’s properties, all tucked away in sidewalk-level spaces for people to discover.
“We’re incredibly excited to bring the magical mini-worlds of AnonyMouse to our properties,” Naseem Niaraki, vice president, group creative director for WS Development, said in a statement. “The attention to detail and craft in each art installation is simply breathtaking — we encourage you to get low and take a peek in to experience the micro-scale of this visionary artist collective.”
AnonymousMouse started in Sweden around 2016 as a “creative outlet” for its members, which they cheekily call “a loosely connected network of mice and men.”
“We wanted to make something that, if we were still kids we would find charming if we passed it on the street,” the group said. “In this project we like to imagine a world — slightly out of sight — where small animals live quite like we do, but recycle things that we have lost or thrown away.”
The project also seeks to demonstrate the importance of shared space and the allure of public art.
“In essence it’s about spreading a little bit of everyday magic to people who happen to stumble upon [our work],” they said. “We are trying to wake your imagination … And we’re happy if people just stop for a minute and walk away with a little sense of childhood magic.”
Members of the group, who have since “left town,” said it can take about a month to create a single piece of artwork, given its fine detail.
First, someone has to visit prospective locations to take “all kinds of measurements.” Then they return to the group’s headquarters in Sweden, where an unknown — at least to the public — number of artists work to create the intricate scenery.
“We are an ever-changing number of artists (the precise number we’d like to keep a secret due to the nature of the whole project),” the group said. “And once they’re done we try to install them in the middle of the night.”
That’s how employees at a clothing store next to the display in the Seaport District learned about the miniature mouse shop and museum last week. On Thursday, a tarp covered part of a wall next to the store, the employees said. Maybe the building developers were doing some touch-up work, they thought.
But the next day, there it was — a store where a mouse could pick up a copy of “Squeak” magazine or the “Boston Mouseanger,” a teeny newspaper folded on a shelf inside the display.
Next door to the market, a rodent might peruse the art gallery, where two empty picture frames (a sly allusion to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum?) hang on the wallpapered walls and two golden animal statues are on display.
“So many people have stopped to look at it,” said one of the employees. “They crouch down to snap photos, and to get views of inside. It’s very cute.”
It’s quite a sight to see. You might just stop short.
Steve Annear can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.