LONDON -- Over the past few years a highly secretive network working out of Sweden has been opening our eyes to a world we had not given much thought too before. But no, this isn’t Wikileaks or the hackers’ group Anonymous. This is "AnonyMouse," an anonymous collection of artists behind the installation of tiny buildings, stores and cafes across the streets of Sweden and Europe designed to be inhabited by mice.
The scenes, like the fairy tales that inspired them, are dreamy and adorable, to say the least. A miniature record store, complete with mouse variations on some of the most classic albums of all time, a bottlecap banjo, a tiny bistro, a travel agent, a jazz club -- all crafted to the tiniest detail.
“Well, it started with a few of us just wanting to construct something in a public setting, and the discussion narrowed in on our love for the movies of Disney and [American film director] Don Bluth, and Swedish children's author Astrid Lindgren and Beatrix Potter,” AnonyMouse, speaking under the condition of anonymity, told ABC News. “We like to think of it as something we, ourselves, would love to stumble upon in an otherwise dull concrete environment.”
The group has been working for the past five years ever since they built a “little Italian bistro and a nut shop” into one sidewalk. Now, they‘ve completed an estimated 30 installations, mostly in Malmo and Stockholm in Sweden -- but installations have also popped up in Bayonne in the south of France and the Isle of Man off the coast of the U.K.
After scouting a location, the group then research the local history of the area they are in to inform their design.
Once sketched out, the constructions take up to two months to build before they are installed in the dead of night.
“We just want to bring a little bit of magic into people's everyday lives, and maybe inspire someone to create something on their own street,” AnonyMouse said. “We like to imagine a world where small animals live parallel to us, and recycle objects we lose or throw away, so a bottle cap becomes a chair, a box of matches a table, a stamp becomes a painting and a trash can becomes a restaurant.”
Last summer, interest in AnonyMouse’s work grew substantially with the group amassing over 70,000 followers on Instagram.
Michael Gehrisch, an American photographer based in Lund, Sweden, captured a few of the dream-like miniature scenes on video, which show stunned onlookers bending impossibly low to the ground to take pictures and admire the work.
“I had been following AnonyMouse for a couple of years, and had traveled to nearby Malmö to see the installations, but the locations weren't ideal for timelapse,” he told ABC News. “So when AnonyMouse showed up in Lund in locations with next to no traffic I thought it would be fun to give the artist(s) some feedback and insight into the public appreciation of their work. A thank you of sorts.”
Even with their recent success, the artists’ collective will not be sacrificing their treasured anonymity anytime soon.
“As long as we remain anonymous each viewer can project whoever they want us to be,” the anonymous artist said. “And also, the pun is pretty good, so if we revealed ourselves we would have to change our name.”