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Ahead Of Super Bowl, Museum Heads Trash-Talk


It is an annual tradition. The mayors of the two cities going head-to-head in the Super Bowl make a friendly bet. The loser has to provide the winner with a favorite local delicacy. Well, this year, the stakes got a little higher. That's because the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the New Orleans Museum of Art have gotten into the wagering. The prize is a three-month loan of one of the greatest treasures from the museum in the losing city, and joining me now are IMA director Maxwell Anderson and NOMA director John Bullard. Welcome to both of you.


JOHN BULLARD: Thank you.

SIEGEL: And Max, when it came to putting up some painting for loan to New Orleans should the Colts lose, what did you pick?

ANDERSON: Knowing that the Colts wouldn't lose, it was a fairly straightforward choice, and that was a painting by Ingrid Calame "Tracing Tire Tracks on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," which is actually a great work in our contemporary collection.

BULLARD: And I thought, gee, if we're going to really make a bet, let's bet maybe something that it would hurt if it was gone off our walls for three months.

SIEGEL: And you chose?

BULLARD: I suggested a Renoir painting, which is currently in a big show in Paris.

ANDERSON: I also thought maybe what we needed to do is respond with an object of virtue, and that was a cup made for the 1855 World Exposition in Paris that won the great grand medal.

SIEGEL: All right. So when was this cup...

BULLARD: And the chalice was beautiful but a little over the top, heavily elaborated, almost on the verge of being a tchotchke.


BULLARD: And we got plenty of that stuff in our basement, so I didn't need another one from Indianapolis.

SIEGEL: He's calling your stuff tchotchkes now.

ANDERSON: Well, the Renoir seemed to me kind of sentimental, and I used a French epithet. So we moved on from there.

SIEGEL: Well, it eventually came down to two very interesting paintings. Max Anderson, why don't you tell us what you're willing to send off to New Orleans for three months?

ANDERSON: We have the largest collection of JMW Turner, the great British artist, and so we chose his foremost work in our collection, which is a painting of the "Plague in Egypt" painted around 1800 when he was 24, when he was the same age as Austin Collie, one of our great Colts players.


ANDERSON: So it seemed to me very appropriate to have a young 24-year-old assaulting the competition of the Super Bowl.

SIEGEL: And John Bullard in New Orleans, how did you match that one?

BULLARD: Well, that Turner is a fabulous picture. So to find something that perhaps would compliment it, we have a large landscape painting by the great French artist Claude Lorrain, who was the father of landscape painting, and his work was an inspiration for Turner.

So I thought the two of them would look great together in New Orleans.


SIEGEL: You're that confident. In New Orleans.

BULLARD: And we don't have a Turner. So we'd love to have "The Fifth Plague" in New Orleans.

SIEGEL: So this is a trash talk between museum directors is what we're hearing.

BULLARD: Yeah, we don't get to trash each other very much. We're usually quite collegial and, you know, football mania has taken over, particularly in New Orleans, which hasn't been in a Super Bowl in 40 years of its franchise, so our turn.

ANDERSON: Well, we'd love to help, John, but the turns have to come at the end of the game.

SIEGEL: Well, I know this is illogical, but good luck to both of you.


BULLARD: May the best team win.

ANDERSON: Thank you so much.

SIEGEL: That's John Bullard of the New Orleans Museum of Art and Maxwell Anderson of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, talking about the wager they've made on the Super Bowl.



You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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