Creative pursuits are popping up all around the world as we try to entertain ourselves at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, but one Italian couple and their pet gerbils have created something particularly engaging.

A gerbil examining a cartoon artwork on the wall
An Italian couple created an art gallery for their gerbils © Filippo Lorenzin and Marianna Benetti

Filippo Lorenzin and Marianna Benetti are art-lovers living in London, and they decided to create a cute art gallery for their nine-month-old gerbil brothers, Pandoro and Tiramisù. They were well-placed for the endeavour because while Filippo works as an independent curator and is an employee at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Marianna is an artist and writer.

Two gerbils in front of cartoon artworks
Pandoro and Tiramisù loved exloring their art gallery © Filippo Lorenzin and Marianna Benetti

The pair got to work completing rodent interpretations of famous artworks. “We thought it would be interesting to see how our two gerbils reacted,“ Marianna tells Lonely Planet. “The initial project was for a dollhouse, but Filippo works in a museum so he came up with the idea for an art gallery.”

Filippo worked on recreating Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Edvard Munch's The Scream, while Marianna worked on The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer and The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. "We had a lot of fun revisiting the master paintings in a funny but respectful manner," says Marianna. "The paintings are small in size, so it took less than an hour to make all of them."

The teeny gallery even has a sign warning visitors not to chew on the artworks, although after exploring the gallery, Pandoro and Tiramisù decided to ignore this rule and chewed on the gallery assistant’s stool. Filippo and Marianna hope that their little project will help people to remember the good times they've had in museums and encourage them to support creative institutions at this difficult time.

An art gallery created for gerbils with cartoon artworks on the walls
The art gallery created by Filippo and Marianna © Filippo Lorenzin and Marianna Benetti

You can follow Pandoro and Tiramisù's Instagram page here.

Keep up to date with Lonely Planet's latest travel-related COVID-19 news here.

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