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January 29, 2014 at 2:15 PM

A glitch in the SAM Super Bowl wager

SAM's new wager: "The Sound of Waves," a six-panel Japanese screen. / Courtesy SAM

SAM’s new wager: “The Sound of Waves,” a six-panel Japanese screen. / Courtesy SAM

Stakes have changed in the art museum Super Bowl smackdown, after members of the Nuxalk First Nation in British Columbia said they weren’t happy that Seattle Art Museum chose a Nuxalk artifact for the wager.

Earlier this week, directors of the Seattle and Denver art museums made a little bet, putting up works of art that symbolized each city’s NFL mascot. The loser would have to loan the artwork to the winning city’s museum for three months, at the loser’s expense. SAM director Kimerly Rorschach wagered an intricate 19th-century Nuxalk First Nations forehead mask, resembling a raven’s head. DAM put up Frederic Remington’s bronze sculpture, “The Bronco Buster.” The Nuxalk mask was a gift to SAM from John H. Hauberg.

According to the CBC, Nuxalk First Nation Chief Wally Webber was unhappy that no one from SAM consulted him before the bet was announced. “If they’re not going to respect what they have of ours, send it back to us where it will be looked after right,” Webber told CBC.

“We have the greatest respect for the Nuxalk’s art and culture and intended the forehead mask to be a cultural exchange with the Denver region,” said Rorschach in a statement. “The Nuxalk Nation asked us to withdraw the offer in conjunction with the Super Bowl and we are doing so in respect for their wishes.”

SAM is now wagering “Sound of Waves,” a Japanese screen from 1901 by Tsuji Kakō that features an eagle with outstretched wings looking out over the sea.

Comments | More in Arts news | Topics: Denver Art Museum, Nuxalk, Seattle Art Museum

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