The screen, about 8 inches high, which presents “La Mouzette”, an imaginary newsstand and confectionery; and the “Massachusetts Mouseum of Fine Art,” with tiny framed paintings just beyond its small windows, is the latest installment of an incognito project that started around six years ago in Europe, capturing worldwide attention.
“Hello, America,” the group wrote on Instagram last Friday, when they posted a highly detailed photo of the model for their 174,000 followers. “So we crossed the pond, and where else to anchor but in the promised land of Moussachusetts. Or exactly? Well, that’s for us to find out and for you to find out! Let the games begin!”
But it didn’t take long for detectives to crack the case and excitement over the pint-sized project to be built.
After a curious fan shared the Instagram post on the display on Twitter, and it was featured on Universal Hub, people quickly pinpointed the model’s precise location. (The Globe has chosen to preserve the mystery – happy hunting).
But there were more and the eagle-eyed residents quickly began to spot other structures at ground level. One was found in Lynnfield this week, and a third was seen hiding in plain sight at ankle height in Chestnut Hill, Patty Neal said.
“We were just walking around and it was very busy [in the area] with all the US Open golf activity, and we almost walked past it,” said Neal, who lives in West Roxbury. “But I stopped my husband and said, ‘Look, it’s a little mouse house!'”
The exhibit featured the “Moussachusetts Fire Brigade”, a two-sided fire station suitable for mouse-sized first responders. The copper-roofed building was adjacent to a second-hand book and antique mouse-map shop called “Anatoles,” which displayed tiny wares in its window. (The name of the store is probably a reference to the series of children’s books about a mouse named “Anatole”).
“I took pictures to show my kids because it was just adorable,” Neal said, awestruck by his impressive features. “There were a lot of details and it kind of brightened our day. Everything seems a little stressful right now and it was really sweet.
AnonyMouse posted about the fire station on Sunday, days after announcing the project’s arrival in the United States, writing, “Let’s continue our Boston odyssey with a small fire station and [an] old bookseller!
A rep for the band said via 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 build something in America, and a few years ago we opened a little record store in Sweden which apparently caught the eye of a company called WS Development,” they said.
A spokesperson for WS Development confirmed the partnership and said additional miniature facilities can be found at several other company-owned and operated locations.
In all, there are 10 small street scenes at five of the company’s properties, all tucked away in sidewalk-level spaces for you to discover.
“We are incredibly excited to bring the magical mini-worlds of AnonyMouse to our properties,” Naseem Niaraki, VP, Group Creative Director for WS Development, said in a statement. “The attention to detail and craftsmanship in each art installation is simply breathtaking – we encourage you to come down and take a look to experience the micro scale of this visionary artist collective.”
AnonyMouse 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 do something that, if we were still children, we would find charming if we passed it on the street,” said the band said. “In this project, we like to imagine a world – a bit out of sight – where little animals live like us, but recycle the things we’ve lost or thrown away.”
The project also seeks to demonstrate the importance of shared space and the appeal of public art.
“It’s basically about spreading a bit of everyday magic to people who stumble upon [our work],” they said. “We try to ignite your imagination… And we’re happy if people just stop for a minute and go with a little bit of childhood magic.”
The band members, who have since “left town”, said it takes about a month to create a single piece of art, given how finely detailed it is.
First, someone has to visit potential locations to take “all kinds of action.” Then they return to the group’s headquarters in Sweden, where an unknown number – at least to the public – of artists work to create the intricate set.
“We are an ever-changing number of artists (the specific number that we would like to keep secret due to the nature of the whole project),” the band said. “And once they’re done, we try to install them in the middle of the night.”
That’s how employees of a clothing store next to the display in the Seaport District discovered the miniature mouse shop and museum last week. A tarp covered part of a wall next to the store on Thursday, employees said. Maybe the developers were doing touch-ups, 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 tiny, folded newspaper from a shelf inside the display case.
Just off the market, a rodent might roam the art gallery, where two empty picture frames (a sly hint at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum?) hang on the papered walls and two golden animal statues are on display.
“So many people stopped to watch it,” said one of the employees. “They crouch down to take pictures and to get a view inside. This is very cute.”
It’s quite a sight to behold. You could stop dead.