Tomas Georgeson, an artist from Buckinghamshire, England, has come up with an ingenious way of getting people to visit the local Milton Keynes Gallery – he placed an advert in the local paper informing town folk that he has hidden a blank check for £8,000 ($12,600) somewhere in the gallery and that they are invited to claim it by March 1.
There are a number of ways to get people interested in art galleries. Some people bury themselves in a tiny hole for a whole week, others give birth in front of a live audience, but probably the most effective way is to actually offer visitors financial incentives. That’s what English artist Tomas Georgeson decided to do, in a desperate attempt to raise local interest in Milton Keynes’ gallery. He has apparently hidden a blank check for £8,000 somewhere inside the small venue, which visitors are invited to look for and claim as their own. Although the bold artist says it’s pretty much all the money he has, treasure hunters can be sure it won’t bounce. He describes his unusual gesture as a statement of support for the galley, and a way to”get people through the door and change the mood of the place.”
Photo: Derek Wales Photography
“It almost doesn’t matter what happens, it’s the fact that it’s there”, Georgeson said. “If somebody chooses to spend it on mortgage payments, then those mortgage payments would become art, which is quite miraculous to me.” Anticipating that some people might actually damage the artworks on display at the Milton Keynes Gallery, he wanted to ask everyone to respect the art on display while hunting for the check, and made sure to let them know the precious piece of paper isn’t hidden behind any of the works. “It won’t bounce if somebody finds the check and cashes it. I’m prepared to live with the consequences of that happening, and I could only be prepared if I thought it would really do some good” he added.
Apparently, not even representatives of the gallery knew about Tomas Georgeson’s idea before it appeared in the papers. A representative told members of the press that his colleagues “have made a careful search of the gallery’s public spaces and found no trace of a blank check for £8,000.” Still, the gallery has brought in extra staff to guard the displays, and says the number of visitors has definitely increased since articles about Georgeson’s stunt appeared in newspapers around England. “They haven’t been queuing around the block but there have been about 30 extra people in the first two hours and some have not been to the gallery before so that is fantastic” gallery director Anthony Spira told the BBC. “So far so good, nothing has been destroyed but we have had people rifling through our bookcases, looking for clever titles which might be hiding it.”
If unclaimed by March 1, the blank check will be collected. Until then, happy treasure hunting!