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Museums and zoos get in on Boston-Philly Super Bowl bets

The MFA Boston and Philadelphia Museum of Art now have their own game-day wager, as do each city's local zoos.

As the Super Bowl gets closer, plenty of people across the country are surely securing their bets on which team will be the champion. And now, even cultural institutions are getting in on the game-day excitement.

As the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles go head to head, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston will “throwdown” against the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the institution announced.

The artistic tete-a-tete will be a three-pronged affair. First, the MFA Boston will show its support for the Patriots by lighting its Huntington Avenue facade in red, white and blue. The museum will be decked out in those colors starting the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 31, through Friday, Feb. 2.

Riley, the Weimaraner puppy who recently joined the museum as its bug-sniffing staffer, will also wear his Pats gear.

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Then, the two museums will take to Twitter on Friday at 3 p.m. for what they’ve dubbed a “#MuseumBowl,” an event that will be, according to the MFA, “filled with art-inspired trash talk,” as well as reworked images of artistic classics in the two teams’ gear.

Since both Boston and Philly go way back, the museums will compare the two cities, “both home to many of America’s founding fathers,” as the MFA noted, through their collections.

Finally, there’s also a Super Bowl wager in the mix. The MFA Boston and Philadelphia Museum of Art have each agreed to loan an iconic painting from their respective collections to the winning city’s museum.

If the Pats win their sixth Super Bowl title on Sunday, visitors to the MFA Boston will get to see “Benjamin Franklin Drawing Electricity from the Sky,” an 1816 painting by Benjamin West.

If the Eagles take the title, the MFA will loan to Philly “Mrs. James Warren (Mercy Otis),” painted by John Singleton Copley in about 1763. Mercy Otis Warren was a female patriot, poet and author of the first history of the Revolutionary War. 

Each city’s zoos have also made a “wild wager,” though their bet doesn’t mean any animals will be visiting the winning city.

Instead, Zoo New England, which operates the Franklin Park Zoo and the Stone Zoo, has teamed up with the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence and Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to challenge three Philly-area zoos: the Philadelphia Zoo, Elmwood Park Zoo and Lehigh Valley Zoo.

The terms of the bet are that the three directors of the losing city’s zoos will clean out an animal exhibit while wearing the winning team’s jersey and that the losing zoos will donate $1,000 each to the winning zoos' conservation work or youth-focused program of their choice.

“The excitement and confidence levels are high here in Massachusetts as we get ready to watch our Patriots enter into another Super Bowl matchup,” Zoo New England President and CEO John Linehan said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to another Super Bowl win, and seeing our colleagues in the Philadelphia area wear Patriots gear when all is said and done.”