LONDON — The British Museum wants it. The Museum of London does, too. So does the Bishopsgate Institute, which runs an archive of the history of protest.
“Trump Baby” — the 19-foot balloon that mocked President Trump during his recent trip to Britain — is in demand among museums here, who want to add it to their collections.
The British Museum is in early discussions with its creators to fly the balloon in September, when an exhibition on the history of dissent and protest opens there, a spokesman for the museum said. The Museum of London and the Bishopsgate Institute are offering a more permanent home, although both realize that displaying it may be difficult. “We’d need to work out how to do that,” said Stef Dickers, an archive manager at Bishopsgate. “You could definitely come in and look at ‘Trump Baby,’ you just might need to bring your own pump.”
Other London museums also considered trying to acquire the balloon. Tom Wilson, the head of the collection at London’s Design Museum, said in a statement that the balloon represented “an important protest moment” and reflects the changing role of design in political expression, but the museum simply does not have the space to display something so big.
The Victoria and Albert Museum has a special unit for “rapid-response collecting” that often snaps up items of political significance. “It has been suggested to us that we collect it,” Corinna Gardner, the senior curator responsible for such acquisitions, said in a telephone interview. “But it’s not something we’re considering.” The unit only wants objects that are important because of their design. “The baby is an object of protest — and a brilliant one — but it’s not its design that raises questions,” she said.
The balloon is the work of a group of Londoners, friends who jokingly call themselves Trump babysitters, several of whom work for environmental charities. The blimp’s design is by Matthew Bonner. In his original drawing for it, Mr. Trump was pictured crying, until the friends decided this made him look too sympathetic, Mr. Bonner told the Design Museum in an Instagram interview.
Kevin Smith, one of the group, said in a telephone interview that it had been overwhelmed by interest in the balloon since the president’s visit. The group has received many requests from activists around the world looking to use the balloon, he said, on top of the requests from museums.
“It’s become this sort of iconic image that could define part of Trump’s presidency,” Mr. Smith added.
The Trump babysitters started a crowdfunding campaign to fund a “Trump Baby world tour”: They have so far raised over 34,000 British pounds, or about $44,500. But Mr. Smith said the creators need time to work out what to do next, and assess the offers from museums and others. Other options could include releasing the balloon’s design under a Creative Commons license so that activists worldwide can use it.
Two activists in New Jersey — Didier Jiminez-Castro and Jim Girvan, organizer of the People’s Motorcade, which often targets Mr. Trump — raised about $24,000 this month to take the “Trump Baby” on tour in the United States. Mr. Smith said a representative of the British group spoke to the activists on Friday, but nothing has been agreed upon.
“The team’s a group of friends and volunteers working in their spare time,” he said of the Trump babysitters. “People have really run themselves to the point of exhaustion while doing this. We’re really keen to make the global tour happen; we just need to step back a little bit and calm down.”
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