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Art Museums Make Super Bowl Bet

Posted by Josh Rothman  January 28, 2011 09:05 AM

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All around America this week, offices are transforming into bookie joints in anticipation of the upcoming Super Bowl - even the U.S. Senate is getting into it. Curators, it turns out, aren't immune either: The Milwaukee Art Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Art are putting some paintings on the line in a Super Bowl art-loan smackdown.


Renoir's "Bathers with a Crab" is part of the wager.

The bet, instigated by the blog Modern Art Notes for the second year in a row, requires the losing museum to loan a painting to the winning museum. The Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh has bet Renoir's "Bathers with a Crab" on a Steelers victory; the Milwaukee Art Museum has wagered Caillebotte's "Boating on the Yerres" on the Packers. (Milwaukee's art museum is the nearest to Green Bay, which has no museum of its own.)

Daniel Keegan, director of the Milwaukee Art Museum, says that he's "confident that we will be enjoying the Renoir from Carnegie Museum of Art very soon. I look forward to displaying it where the public can enjoy it and be reminded of the superiority of the Green Bay Packers." Lynn Zelevansky of the Carnegie Museum says that Milwaukee's "trash talk" is bad form. “We let the excellence of our football team, and our collection, speak for itself. It will be my great pleasure to see the Caillebotte from the Milwaukee Art Museum hang in our galleries.”

The bet, of course, is a great way for museums which wouldn't ordinarily lend one another paintings to get in touch. The Renoir and Caillebotte paintings would fill gaps in each museum's collection. Last year, the Indianapolis Museum of Art lent a huge Turner to the New Orleans Museum of Art after the Colts beat the Saints. To the victor go the spoils!

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.

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