Museums wager French impressionist paintings on Super Bowl XLV
If the Packers win the Super Bowl, a Milwaukee museum gets a Renoir nude for its gallery.
January 28th, 2011
01:31 PM ET

Museums wager French impressionist paintings on Super Bowl XLV

Some folks paddling boats vs. naked ladies bathing – it doesn’t seem like a fair wager, at least not to this admittedly male reporter.

But that’s the bet, as the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh are putting impressionist artworks on the line for Super Bowl XLV.

If the Steelers win, Carnegie gets Gustave Caillebotte’s “Boating on the Yerres." If the Pack prevails, Milwaukee gets Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s “Bathers with a Crab.”

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports the winning museum will be able to display its spoils for three months, so neither museum is in danger of permanently losing a multimillion-dollar French painting.

Adding to the fun is that the chiefs of both museums are engaging in a spirited spat of trash talk that may belie the image many of us have about museum directors.

Milwaukee Museum of Art director Daniel Keegan said in a statement to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he is already preparing a space for the Renoir.

“I'm confident we will be enjoying the Renoir from the Carnegie Museum of Art very soon,” the Green Bay native told the paper. “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, the director at Carnegie, had a retort for her Cheesehead counterpart.

“In Pittsburgh, we believe trash talk is bad form,” Zelevansky said in a statement. “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 Museum of Art hang in our galleries.”

It’s unclear whether she realized the statement constitutes trash talk in sporting circles. It’s also unclear if Zelevansky is aware of the 2.5 points that Las Vegas is predicting Green Bay will win by.

ArtInfo.com reported that the wager will bring something new to each of the museums because the Milwaukee  museum has no Renoir nudes (it has a Renoir river scene) and Carnegie, despite an impressive impressionist collection, has no Caillebotte.

Last year, in a similar bet, the Indianapolis Museum of Art had to lend the New Orleans Museum of Art a J.M.W. Turner painting, “The Fifth Plague of Egypt,” after the Saints whipped the Colts. Fittingly, the museum hung the Turner next to Claude Lorrain’s “Ideal View of Tivoli,” which it had wagered on a Saints win.

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Filed under: Art • Pennsylvania • Pro football • Sports • Wisconsin
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Cesar

    I don't w-want t-to be first. I g-g-get nervous.

    January 28, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. tomcat

    Bathers with a crab? Thank God for modern medicine.

    January 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. 5 psi

    Nothing more exciting than museum directors engaging in trash talk... .

    January 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy

    @tomcat: LMAO!

    January 28, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff Frank

    Heck with the Renoir....Go Packers! Go! Go! Go! "WHIP THAT SUPERBOWL"!!! 🙂

    January 28, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Simple Guy

    My knowledge of the arts consists of me loving my daughters fingerpainting on the fridg... . but I'm with Jeff, Go Packers... .now where's my cheesehead.

    January 28, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Pitts with the over

    Cheeseheads are going to be made into cream cheese

    January 28, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Swisha

    BOTH TEAMS CAN KISS MY A$$!!!!!
    F@*# the steelers i just hope green bay beats them because the steelers are garbage!

    January 28, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. kat

    Steelers all the way!

    January 29, 2011 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  10. banasy

    I'm going for the Steelers; Green Bay can bite my lily-white Gouda.

    January 29, 2011 at 3:07 am | Report abuse |
  11. Green Bay Packers Tie

    I'm hoping the Green Bay Packers win in Memory of Grandma? Just think a Man lost his job because he wore a Green Bay Packers tie to work in Memory of his Grandma. Well you know what they say what goes around comes around. (or visa versa). Go Packers. To the Man that lost his job, you did the right thing. I understand you have new job. Good for you. Go Packers!

    January 29, 2011 at 4:11 am | Report abuse |
  12. kim

    Superior huh isnt that what hitler thought of his nazi in the olmpics. Green bay packer superior. Yea for consipation! GO STEELERS TERRIBLE TOWEL THOSE FOOLS!

    January 29, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  13. dust

    Anybody who compares people that belive thier sports team is superior to others as a nazi is a twit. That makes us a nation full of nazis. May the best team win, which would be the packers!

    January 29, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Muddy Helmet

    I miss the old days,can't beat those Oilers Packers romps... .

    January 29, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. NuckinFuts

    Ok Kim we get it. You're very in tune with human rights. We're talking football not exterminating jews. Try and relax a bit. I have no emotional investment in either team, but I'm excited for a good game. I do like Aaron Rogers though. He's greatly underrated.

    January 31, 2011 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
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