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Bite my Picasso: Art museums drawn into Super Bowl rivalry

By AP | Feb 3, 2019

BOSTON (AP) — Careful about picking sides in the Super Bowl — one of these world-class art museums may tell you where to Van Gogh.

As Sunday’s showdown between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams draws near, Boston’s prestigious Museum of Fine Arts and Los Angeles’ venerable J. Paul Getty Museum are engaging in a little trash talk.

Wagers and good-natured insults between mayors, governors and celebrities are commonplace around Super Bowls. But clashes between purveyors of the fine arts? Not so much.

Even so, the elegant MFA in the capital of Patriots Nation is throwing down.

“We’re all super fans here,” said museum spokeswoman Karen Frascona. Like other MFA employees, she was decked out in Patriots garb Friday to show her allegiance — and then promptly stoked the rivalry on Twitter, using the hashtag #MuseumBowl.

First up: a video of the MFA’s mascot, a spirited Weimaraner dog named Riley, sporting a Patriots coat while chasing after foam footballs.

“Why stop with the politicians? Get the art folks involved, too,” MFA information technology worker Jonathan DelGaizo said as he waved a cardboard cutout of Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman.

The genteel tradition began in 2015, when the Boston art museum engaged in a little friendly taunting with the Seattle Art Museum ahead of the Patriots’ victory over the Seahawks in Super Bowl 49.

It continued in 2017 with Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, before New England’s improbable come-from-behind Super Bowl win against the Falcons in overtime.

Then last year, in the run-up to the Eagles’ championship victory over the Patriots, the MFA tangled with the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

“We love to trash talk, but it’s all in good fun,” Frascona said. “It’s a way to collaborate with another museum. It connects us to people who maybe didn’t think of us in this way. And it’s been a lot of great camaraderie.”

For its part, the Getty Museum — home to masterpieces by Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec, Cezanne and other luminaries — says it’s up to the challenge of “sharing the joy and joining the celebration.”

Last year, the Getty played a little ball with Boston when the Dodgers and the Red Sox battled it out in baseball’s World Series — a clash that ultimately favored Beantown over the City of Angels. Starting Friday, museum vice president Lisa Lapin said, it plans to mine its vast collections for artworks that depict rams.

“We’re avid fans like everyone else,” she said. “And yes, art museums have a sense of humor, too.”