With president Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK, there comes a lot of praise and controversy that tends to bring people out into the streets. His current visit is no different. Now, though, the Museum of London (MoL) has expressed interest in acquiring some of the more unusual – and inflatable – forms of protests against Trump. That’s right, the MoL is interested in obtaining the Donald Trump baby blimp that made its debut in 2018 in protests against the president.
The baby blimp, which made another appearance earlier today in Parliament Square, was crowdfunded about a year ago and floated over the same place in July. The £5,000 crowdfunding page was overwhelmed with donations (more than tripling the original amount) so the balloon has since travelled to other cities as a response. The MoL, and the current owners of the balloon, are interested in it entering the collection of the MoL to add it to the museum’s collection of protest memorabilia. The ‘protest collection’ of the MoL documents the history of protest and the ways in which people at different times have reacted to the environment around them. That portion of the collection includes items from the suffragette movement to climate change rallies.
The Trump baby blimp isn’t the only inflatable protest the MoL would like to procure, either. They have also expressed interest in acquiring the blimp of London mayor Sadiq Khan, which was created as a rebuttal to the Trump baby blimp also supported by crowdfunding. The blimp features Kahn lounging in a yellow bikini referencing his ban on ads that contributed to body shaming on the tube.
‘They’re both really important and of their time,’ Sharon Ament, director of the MoL, told the BBC in reference to the pair of blimps. Ament believes the ‘rich’ balloons are telling of ‘how people protest in London.’ She continued: ‘It’s extraordinary how some objects can capture the public imagination; certainly the balloon really did.’
As the UK faces turmoil over Brexit talks and the added difficulties as prime minister Theresa May steps down in just a few days, some UK citizens (among non UK individuals) have seen the visit as ill-timed and problematic. In the past, Trump’s meetings with Queen Elizabeth II have been less than stellar and he doesn’t have a great track record with Meghan Markle, one of the royal family’s newest members.
The blimps, while a form of protest backed by a lot of passion and frustration, are some of the more entertaining forms of protest. Perhaps, in the age of memes and gifs, they’re exactly what one would expect from protests today. Either way, if they make it into the Museum of London, they’ll be sure to spark conversation, raise some questions, and maybe get the occasional laugh.
Edited: January 18, 2021