BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The American Visionary Art Museum is one of five winners of a unique competition organized by John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight.”

In November, the gallery will host three unusual pieces from the show’s collection. AVAM and the Maryland Food Bank will each receive $10,000 from Oliver.

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What’s being called “Last Week Tonight’s Gallery for Cultural Enrichment” will begin its tour Sept. 7 at the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

“We are thrilled!” AVAM founder Rebecca Hoffberger said in a statement. “Firstly, we were deeply moved that Mr. Oliver recognized and cared that the COVID pandemic and its forced public closures had caused grievous losses to museums. That he then cooked up such a highly visible and fun challenge to publicly underscore that need – well, we were smitten!”

Hoffberger’s proposal included an image of John Oliver’s face inserted into a classic photo of Oscar Wilde.

Oliver launched the competition in October 2020 to highlight issues faced by museums and arts organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. AVAM was chosen from nearly 1,000 museums nationwide.

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The works include a painting of television host Wendy Williams eating a lamb chop, a painting of ties and a York, Pennsylvania, artist’s painting of an amorous pair of anthropomorphic rats.

Hoffberger said she’s also thrilled that the Maryland Food Bank benefits from their win.

“They have long made an art out of sincerely and practically caring for people in need and in crisis and are far more deserving of all our help now than ever,” Hoffberger said.

This isn’t Oliver’s first stunt aimed at helping struggling businesses. Last year, his show created a line of stamps to encourage viewers to support the United States Postal Service. In 2018, he bought several pieces of screen-used Russell Crowe costumes and props, which he in turn gave to Alaska’s last operating Blockbuster Video. The pieces were later sent to the world’s last remaining Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon.

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The pieces will be at AVAM Nov. 1 through 22.

CBS Baltimore Staff