Archive for February 7th, 2010

JMW Turner headed to New Orleans

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

The New Orleans Saints have won the Super Bowl for the first time in a decisive 31-17 victory of the Indianapolis Colts. This is a great boost for the city of New Orleans which has had a rough time of it the past 4 or so years.

But for those of us who find museum drama more fascinating than football, this victory means only one thing: the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s prize JMW Turner painting The Fifth Plague of Egypt is headed to the New Orleans Museum of Art where it will hang with pride for 3 months starting in July next to their beautiful landscape Ideal View of Tivoli by Claude Lorrain.

NOMA director E. John Bullard seems to be basking in the glow of victory. He tweeted: “Dreams DO Come True!” IMA director Maxwell Anderson just tweeted his congratulations. “Congratulations, Saints–great game.” Followed by: “PS–Did you want that picture via FedEx or UPS?”

But really both museums are winners, even if only one team won. Not only has the playful competition been a charming micro lesson in art history, but the bet has garnered the museums international attention. On Friday both directors were interviewed by the BBC. A week before then they were on NPR.

The sports press is showering the museums with stories about the bet too. As Tyler Green points out, the snarky comment from a sports blogger “and yes, I’m as surprised Indianapolis has an art museum as you are” illustrates the huge PR boost the popularity of this bet has brought to the museums.

There will no doubt be greater traffic in the Indianapolis Museum of Art — gotta see that Turner before it heads off to New Orleans — and in the New Orleans Museum of Art, especially after the victory Turner arrives. You can’t buy this kind of attention in prosperous times, never mind in a recession.

Edit: This morning Bullard tweets: “@MaxAndersonUSA, both teams made our cities proud. We would love to see you and Team @IMAmuseum (& the Turner) in #nola!”

Turner's "The Fifth Plague of Egypt" "Ideal View of Tivoli", Claude Lorrain

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