"Last Week Tonight" traveling art gallery debuts at Judy Garland Museum

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A cheeky traveling art exhibit has opened in Grand Rapids. The Judy Garland Museum is hosting the Last Week Tonight Gallery.

"Last Week Tonight" is an HBO news comedy show hosted by John Oliver. During the pandemic, the show’s staff collected three pieces of art that were referenced in episodes. Fans like Jacquelina, Judy, and Joaquin Lerma recognized them right away. Jacquelina and Judy drove from Texas to Minnesota to visit Joaquin and made the gallery a priority stop.

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"We’re all fans, right? So (Oliver) said that they were doing a tour. So I said, OK, well where are they doing the tour?" Jacquelina said. "We were planning on visiting my brother in Minneapolis, so I said, ‘Well, let’s take this little drive.’"

They were among the first in the country to see it. Oliver’s traveling art exhibit will also hit Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, and San Francisco.

Judy Garland Museum Executive Director Janie Heitz said Grand Rapids was selected out of hundreds of applicants.

"When you look at all the other museums that were chosen, they were all in bigger cities. They’re small museums but in bigger cities," Heitz said. "And we’re a small museum in a small town."

"Last Week Tonight" invited museums to apply to host the gallery as part of a pandemic relief effort. Selected museums receive a $10,000 donation, plus another $10,000 for a local food bank.

"Yes, it’s helpful for our museum, but the best part is that the Second Harvest North Central Food Bank will get $10,000 as well. And they are thrilled," Heitz said.

The gallery can be viewed by purchasing a general admission ticket to the Judy Garland Museum, which is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. seven days a week. It will be there for three weeks, through Sept. 28.