On his HBO programme Last Week Tonight, the satirical news show host John Oliver turned his philanthropic attention to museums—or “history’s Instagram” as he helpfully described them for his more youthful viewers—with a creative offer to help ease their financial burdens. Oliver pointed to this year’s finding by the American Alliance of Museums that 1/3 of museums might close because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the recent loosening of deaccessioning restrictions issued by the Association of Art Museum Directors that will allow institutions to sell works to cover some operational expenses. “Museums are supposed to be lasting monuments to scientific, cultural and artistic interest,” Oliver laments. “Not as disposable as the fourth H&M in Times Square.” So in an effort to support struggling institutions, Oliver is offering to send his “small but high-quality collection of modern masterpieces”, which includes a post-coital portrait of two anthropomorphic rats he describes as his own “Mona Lisa” and a “very elegant painting” of fellow tv host Wendy Williams eating a lambchop, on a national tour to five US museums for two weeks apiece. Oh, and along with the obvious honour of displaying such treasures in their galleries, Oliver will be donating $10,000 to each museum, with a matching cash gift to a food bank in their area. Museums are invited to submit their applications to host the collection by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by the deadline of 1 November, and based on the reaction to the show’s announcement on Twitter, the competition will be fierce.
Oh we are so all over it!— Dayton Art Institute (@DaytonArt) October 6, 2020