SFMoMA Reacts to Super Bowl Win With Promise of Kansas City Barbecue

The Museum Bowl wager will bring the famed dish to the institution's restaurant, temporarily.

Harold Eugene Edgerton Football Kick (1938). © The Harold and Esther Edgerton Family Foundation. Courtesy of the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.

On a star-studded evening watched by 110 million people, and featuring much-anticipated attendance by Taylor Swift and a slew of other celebrities, the Super Bowl once again extended its influence to the art world. The Museum Bowl tradition involves institutions betting on the game’s outcome and agreeing to lend a significant piece from their collection to the winning team.

On Sunday, defending champions the Kansas City Chiefs secured a nail-biting victory in overtime despite bookmakers favoring the San Francisco 49ers in the Las Vegas showdown. However, due to legal constraints, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA) is unable to offer a loan to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which will be disappointing considering the collection holds works by renowned modern and contemporary artists such as Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. Instead, the museum has opted for a display of team pride, with director Christopher Bedford vowing to wear the winning team’s gear in a social media video. Additionally, the SFMoMA restaurant will feature Kansas City barbecue (the city’s famed dish) temporarily.

Before the game, Julián Zugazagoitia, the director and chief executive of the Nelson-Atkins, told the Art Newspaper, “We are delighted to once again participate in a friendly face-off, this time with our close colleagues at SFMoMA,” predicting that the Kansas Chiefs would win and adding “I hope our friends are hunting down the best barbecue recipes to serve the weekend after the game.”

The Museum Bowl has a successful history; in 2019, The Los Angeles Rams faced off against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII, with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) loaning its Claude Monet Water Lilies canvas (1897-98) to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, following the loss. Had the Rams won, John Singleton Copley’s Paul Revere (1768) would have been loaned. At SFMoMA, can the introduction of barbecue to the museum restaurant menu compensate for the absence of a new painting?





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