Calling all US museums, or "history's Instagram," as TV host John Oliver calls them. The British comedian rounded off the latest episode of "Last Week Tonight" by offering to loan out works from his unusual art collection to several US museums. Any institutions interested in borrowing John Oliver's artworks for a couple of weeks have until November 1 to send in their pitches.
Collection highlights include a portrait of talk-show host Wendy Williams eating a lamb chop, as well as a still-life painted by the wife of Donald Trump's National Economic Council director, Larry Kudlow. The star of the show, however, is without a doubt a painting of two anthropomorphized rats perched on a bed in a passionate embrace. John Oliver even quips that this 1992 work of rat erotica is his own "Mona Lisa."
John Oliver's search for rat erotica has ended pic.twitter.com/hA98mumAOn— Kilo Rat (@kilorat) April 13, 2020
Known to audiences worldwide thanks to "Last Week Tonight," these artworks will soon go on show in five US museums chosen by John Oliver in the coming weeks. The institutions selected will also receive a $10,000 donation to help top up their coffers after months of closure.
The offer caught the attention of many a museum curator, who took to Twitter to announce that they'd already sent their pitches to email@example.com. Institutions in the running include Ohio's Dayton Art Institute and the Alabama Museum of Natural History, the state's oldest museum.
We're going on tour! Museums are struggling, so, in an effort to help, we're going to pick five museums to host these fine works of art! We'll be donating $10k to each museum, and $10k to a food bank in their area. Museums can email firstname.lastname@example.org to apply! pic.twitter.com/cTsBDTvDSk— Last Week Tonight (@LastWeekTonight) October 5, 2020
Although John Oliver is no stranger to unexpected happenings, this initiative has also been launched in response to news that many American museums plan to sell works in their collections to survive the economic fallout from the global pandemic. In fact, a survey by the American Alliance of Museums revealed that one third of the country's cultural establishments could close for good by fall 2021.
"Museums are supposed to be lasting monuments to scientific, cultural and artistic interest," John Oliver explains in the show. "Not as disposable as the fourth H&M in Times Square."