John Oliver has a pretty damn strange art collection.
The host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight has amassed some truly bizarre works over the years, from a 28-year-old painting featuring two rats making out in bed (which, decades ago, was featured on a PBS station in Pennsylvania on an art auction show) to a painting of Director of the United States National Economic Council Larry Kudlow’s ties (painted by his wife, Judy Kudlow) to his latest acquisition, which depicts TV host Wendy Williams munching on a lambchop.
It’s a striking collection, to be sure. And at the close of Sunday’s program, Oliver generously offered to take it on tour across the country, to benefit museums that are struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve dabbled a bit in the art market this year and have acquired a small but high-quality collection of modern masterpieces,” Oliver said at the end of the show. “Tonight, I’m proud to announce that this collection is available to go on tour. That is right, we’re inviting any US museum — as long as they can safely show them — to apply to host these masterpieces.”
Naturally, since the art in question here is exceptionally weird, St. Louis’ City Museum, which truly specializes in exceptionally weird art, was lobbied by locals to be one of the destinations Oliver’s paintings come and visit.
You seriously have to consider the City Museum in STL. It’s basically a training ground for kids to get lost in air ducts. It’s amazingly cool and the epitome of an urban architecture museum for non-stuffy people. Cc @citymuseum
— Mark Katerberg (@MisterNeem) October 9, 2020
— kholleman (@kholleman) October 9, 2020
Definitely need to choose @citymuseum It’s a beautiful place of magic that is as fun for adults as it is for kids. AND it has a tavern!
— April Evers (@amevers) October 9, 2020
Please please pick @citymuseum! It is so incredibly whimsical, wonderful, and my favorite place in the whole world. SAVE THE TEN-STORY SLIDE, INDOOR CIRCUS, AND THE LARGEST UNDERPANTS IN THE WORLD!!!
— Ellis Light (@ellisamitylight) October 9, 2020
@citymuseum please. Please. Jesus christ please. Your childish ass in that place is seriously what me and HUMANITY needs. I do not say this lightly. Go to that museum and life will melt into a blend of happy not seen since the first time your British ass had a meat pie. #loveyou
— The Stoned Buddah (@Budmanthegreat) October 9, 2020
Soon enough, the folks at City Museum got the message (or more likely, dozens and dozens of messages) that they should throw their collective hat in the ring (in between throwing pumpkins off their roof, of course). And throw they did:
We did it! We applied thanks to some help from a friend. Think we have a chance? https://t.co/dirWRgD4o1
— City Museum (@citymuseum) October 8, 2020
In addition to having the honor of hosting one of the oddest collected works of art in television history, there are perks to being chosen for the tour. Each museum that is selected — and there will only be five total — will receive a donation of $10,000 from the show, with an additional $10,000 going to a food bank in the museum’s city.
That money would come at a crucial time for City Museum. According to a note on its website, during the summer months, more than 70 percent of its revenue comes for tourists to the city of St. Louis. But since tourism is down dramatically this year due to the pandemic, the city’s most beloved institution has had to drastically cut its hours in order to save money, meaning it is currently only open Friday through Sunday. In short, this would be an incredible boon for the sprawling art-exhibit-turned-public-playground.
And, as Oliver suggested at the close of his show, it would be quite the boon for those of us in St. Louis, too.
“If selected soon, you too will be able to feast your eyes on true art like Wendy is feasting upon that lambchop,” he said. “You will not regret it. I promise.”
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