The approximately 8-inch-tall display featuring “The Mouzette,” a fictional newsagent and candy cane; and the ‘Massachusetts Mouseum of Fine Art’, complete with small framed paintings just outside the small windows, is the latest installment of an incognito project that started about six years ago in Europe and attracted worldwide attention.
“Good morning America,” the group wrote on Instagram last Friday, when they posted a photo of the highly detailed model in front of their 174,000 followers. “So we’ve crossed the pond and where else can we anchor but in the promised land of Moussachusetts. Where exactly? Well, that’s for us to know and for you to find out! Let the game begin!”
But it wasn’t long before detectives solved the case and turned the excitement over the small project.
After 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 keep the mystery – happy hunting).
But there were more and eagle-eyed residents soon began to spot other ground structures. Found one in Lynnfield this week, and one third was seen 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 golfing activity from the US Open, 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!'”
On display was the “Mousachusetts Fire Brigade”, a two-sided fire station suitable for first responders the size of a mouse. The copper-roofed building adjoined a store for used books and antique maps for mice, called “Anatoles,” with small merchandise in the front window. (The store’s name is probably a reference to the children’s book series about a mouse called “Anatole”).
“I took pictures to show my kids because it was just cute,” said Neal, who was amazed at the impressive features. “It had a lot of details and it brightened up our day a bit. Everything seems a little stressful at the moment and it was just really sweet.”
AnonyMouse posted about the fire station on Sunday, a few days after announcing the project’s arrival in the United States, writing, “Let’s continue our Bostonian odyssey with a small fire station and [an] antiquarian bookseller!”
A representative of the group emailed 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 had a small record store in Sweden that apparently caught the eye of a company called WS Development,” they said.
A spokesperson for WS Development confirmed the partnership and said additional miniature installations can be found at several other locations owned and operated by the company.
In all, there are 10 small street scenes in five of the company’s properties, all tucked away in sidewalk-level spaces for people to explore.
“We are incredibly excited to bring the magical mini-worlds of AnonyMouse to our properties,” said Naseem Niaraki, the group’s vice president, creative director for WS Development, in a statement. “The attention to detail and craft in each art installation is simply breathtaking – we encourage you to stay low and take a look to experience the microscale of this visionary artist collective.”
AnonyMouse started out in Sweden around 2016 as a “creative outlet” for its members, whom they cheekily refer to as “a loosely connected network of mice and men.”
“We wanted to make something that, when we were kids, we would find charming when we saw it on the street,” says the… group said. “In this project, we envision a world — a little out of sight — where small animals like us live, but recycle things we’ve lost or thrown away.”
The project also aims to demonstrate the importance of shared space and the allure of public art.
“Essentially it’s about spreading a little bit of everyday magic to people who happen to come across” [our work],” they said. “We’re trying to awaken your imagination… And we’re happy when people stop 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 art, given the fine detail.
First, someone has to visit potential locations to make ‘all kinds of measurements’. They then return to the group’s headquarters in Sweden, where an unknown – at least to the public – number of artists work to create the intricate landscape.
“We are an ever-changing number of artists (the exact number we want to keep a secret due to the nature of the whole project),” the group said. “And when they’re ready, we try to install them in the middle of the night.”
For example, employees of a clothing store next to the display in the Seaport District were introduced to the miniature mouse shop and the museum last week. On Thursday, a tarpaulin covered part of a wall next to the store, the employees said. Maybe the construction developers were doing some updating, they thought.
But the next day it was there—a store where a mouse could grab a copy of the magazine “Squeak” or the “Boston Mouseanger,” a tiny newspaper folded on a shelf in the display.
Next to the market, a rodent might check out the art gallery, where two empty picture frames (a sly allusion to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum?) hang on the papered walls and there are two golden animal statues on display.
“So many people have stopped to look at it,” said one of the staff. “They squat down to take pictures and look inside. It’s very cute.”
It’s quite a sight to see. You could just stop.