Lauded institutions are holding their own lighthearded competition.

Ever tried to run in a museum? Maybe race your little brother for the drinking fountain? What happens? We all know what happens; a nice and sensible guard tells us to cut it out and quick.

But museums, of course, are filled with works that depict running and racing and the throwing of javelins and the leaping of hurdles. Paintings stretching back hundreds of years muse upon the nature of sport and competition in all of its thrills and agonies. In short, a museum isn't simply a place where flower-filled watercolors reign; men tussle and wrestle and go for the gold.

And if you head on over to a little online land called Twitter, and you enter the hashtag #MuseumOlympics, you'll see the best of these works. The deal? Institutions in California and spots further on have been posting sports-themed works from their collection. It's fun and it is cheeky and it is full of the same sort of showmanship and camaraderie that the best of the Olympics Games offers.

Our own Los Angeles County Museum of Art got into the spirited swing, posting a full-on Pinterest board packed with three dozen sportly see-'em-at-LACMA works. Ancient Greece, of course, makes a noble showing. Well done, LACMA. Applause.

To follow along, and to admire more works that celebrate competition -- and many specifically the Olympics -- make for Twitter and keep an eye on #MuseumOlympics.

And remember: No running in the museum. But admiring paintings of running in the museum is a-ok.

Image: Thomas Eakins (United States, 1844-1916), "Wrestlers," 1899, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of Cecile B. Bartman and The Cecile and Fred Bartman Foundation. Photo copyright 2007 Museum Associates/LACMA

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