The British Museum Wants to Borrow That ‘Baby Trump’ Balloon—But It’s Got Competition
The director of the Museum of London thinks it should be preserved for the nation but activists say their priority is to fly the blimp wherever the US President travels.
The balloon depicting Donald Trump as a baby that flew above London during the US President’s visit this month is now in high demand among curators. The British Museum, among other institutions, is interested in the diaper-clad, smartphone-carrying, snarling inflatable, which became a mascot for protesters last week.
The British Museum is in talks “to potentially borrow” the balloon to display alongside a satire-themed exhibition at the museum in September, a spokesperson tells artnet News. The Museum of London is also interested, and unlike the BM, it wants to preserve the inflatable for posterity.
The exhibition “I object: Ian Hislop’s search for dissent,” is guest curated by the editor of the satirical magazine Private Eye, who is a regular on the popular BBC news-satire quiz show Have I Got News For You. Banksy is lending one of his works—a concrete slab etched with a doodle of a caveman pushing a shopping trolley—for the occasion. The elusive street artist infamously smuggled the fake cave painting into the British Museum in 2005 as a prank.
While the Trump balloon would not be an official part of the exhibition, which is due to open on September 6 and run through January 20, it would be shown around the time of the opening. “It’s a tentative idea at this point, and too soon to say whether this will happen as we have only made an initial inquiry,” the museum spokesperson says.
Kevin Smith, one of the so-called “Trump Baby Sitters” overseeing the balloon project, tells us that to his knowledge, no US museums have approached the organizers about the balloon so far. But he noted that they are still going through hundreds of inquiries received since the balloon took off.
Among the expressions of interest is one from Museum of London curator Vyki Sparkes, who approached the makers of the blimp on Twitter to ask about their plans for preserving the object.
The director of the Museum of London, Sharon Ament, has also expressed a desire to add the balloon to the museum’s collection. Getting wind of competing interest from the British Museum, Ament tweeted that there is “an interesting conversation to be had… about reasons for collection and display.” Although there has been some talk of the balloon symbolizing a turn to “clickbait collecting,” the director maintained that Baby Trump “would be great in our national collection.”
Other interested museums include London’s Design Museum, which documented the design story behind the Trump Baby for an exhibition about political graphics called “Hope to Nope.” Representatives from the Science Museum and the Bishopsgate Institute in east London have also expressed an interest in the balloon, reports the Museums Association,
“We need to sit down and have some conversations about what happens to the Trump Baby in the end,” Smith says. “We haven’t discounted the possibility of him ending up in a museum, but our main priority right now is to ensure that he gets as much mileage as possible in a global tour of trolling both Trump and the politics of hate and division that he represents.”
The Trump Baby organizers are crowdfunding to send the balloon on a grand world tour, and have reached £34,601 ($44,910) of their £40,000 ($51,917) target with six days to go.
The protest work is headed to New Jersey next month to fly during Trump’s visit to his Bedminster golf course under the supervision of local activist Didier Jimenez. Activists are also hoping to raise funds to send the balloon on an East Coast tour, and are looking to have the blimp fly in New York’s Central Park.
Meanwhile, Iraqi-American artist Hiba Jameel beat more than 100 international entries to win the Top Trump art competition marking the US President’s UK visit with her painting titled I really don’t care, do you? which will be donated to the permanent collection of the Newseum in Washington, DC.
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