Denver and Seattle Art Museums Make Super Bowl Bet

Forehead Mask, Nuxalk, ca. 1880, alder, red cedar bark, copper, pins, paint, 4 1/8 by 11 3/8 by 5 1/8 inches.



This Sunday, Feb. 2, when the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos go toe to toe in Super Bowl XLVIII, the fates of artwork from the Seattle Art Museum and the Denver Art Museum will also hang in the balance. The winning team’s museum will be temporarily loaned a work depicting the vanquished mascot.

Denver has put up The Broncho Buster, Frederic Remington’s 1895 bronze statuette of a cowboy mounted on a rearing horse, long considered an icon of the American West. Seattle is offering a Native American bird mask that bears a strong resemblance to the Seahawks’ logo. Dating to around 1880, the red cedar forehead mask was made by the Nuxalk First Nation. All shipping and other expenses incurred during the three-month loan will be billed to the losing city’s museum.

Seattle director and CEO Kimerly Rorschach engaged in some good-natured trash talk in a press release, saying “I’m confident that we will be enjoying Remington’s The Broncho Buster.” Responding in kind, Denver’s director Christoph Heinrich expressed his eagerness to give “the losing team’s mascot a special place of honor in Bronco Nation.”

Friendly wagers between the mayors of cities participating in the NFL Championship are customary, and often involve the city’s respective regional food specialties. This year, in addition to more traditional items such as Dungeness crab and salmon, Seattle mayor Ed Murray has offered up a piece of blown glass from Washington artist Dale Chihuly. Denver mayor Michael Hancock, for his part, is placing locally produced handmade skiing garb and equipment on the line, as well as a bowl of Colorado’s unique variety of green chili.