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Have Mercy! Art Museums Gamble on the #MuseumBowl


Art fans, sports fans, puppy-and-kitten fans alike, please take a moment to wipe off any Crisco that may still be on your shirt and join me in welcoming one Mrs. James Warren, formerly of Boston, to the state of Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia.

John Singleton Copley's portrait of Mrs. James Warren (Mercy Otis), c. 1763, from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston
image: Museum of Fine Arts Boston

A educated woman, she was a playwright, poet and mother of three. Mrs. Warren, nee Otis, was one of the early chroniclers of the American Revolution, publishing plays and poems from approximately the 1770s onward. Her three-volume ‘History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution’ was published in 1805 under her own name, Mercy Otis Warren.

But why, you may ask, does Mrs. Warren travel to Philadelphia at this particular late date? Because of the #MuseumBowl, of course! Catch up if you missed it!

How the Best Was Won

In the second-annual #Museum Bowl, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts slung some “art-inspired trash talk” with works of art at stake. While the winner wouldn’t be determined on Twitter, each museum posted creative edits to artworks in their collections, representing for their favorite team. The terms of the bet: if the Patriots won, @philamuseum would send Benjamin West’s “Benjamin Franklin Drawing Electricity from the Sky” to Boston, and if the Eagles won, @mfaboston would bid John Singleton Copley’s portrait of Mrs. Warren adieu. (As a loan, not permanently.)

The trash-talking happened on Friday afternoon, but the determining factor was yesterday’s Superb Owl Super Bowl.

Works of art were meme-ified for both the Eagles

…and likewise for the Patriots.

And, of course, we can’t forget the zebras!

Since #DeflateGate, bit of shade.

And then some afternoon shade in response.

A nod to the Puppy Bowl? Because I think Riley is very convincing!

Other museums tried getting in on the action.

And SOMEONE’S social media team was workin’ on the weekend!

Congrats, on your #MuseumBowl win, Philadelphia! (Enjoy that football parade, too.) See if you can clean things up a bit before Mercy arrives, and then go visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art when she gets there!

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