As Trump exits the White House, the Trump baby balloon enters the Museum of London

As Trump exits the White House, the Trump baby balloon enters the Museum of London
The Trump baby balloon floats above Parliament Square during a protest in 2018. Courtesy Flickr Commons | Photo: Michael Reeve
Leading lights  -   Curators

On the week that President Donald Trump will leave the White House, a six-metre tall inflatable caricature of The Apprentice star turned president will enter the Museum of London’s collection.

The Trump baby balloon first appeared in 2018 amongst protesters who gathered in Parliament Square for an anti-Trump demonstration coinciding with the president’s first official visit to the UK as head of the US government.

The balloon, itself, was designed by Matt Bonner and constructed by Imagine Inflatables, a company based in Leicester. The oblong balloon is an imitation of the president, who has mere days left as president. Clad in a diaper, the bare-chested baby is orange all over, except for its swath of yellow hair. Its raccoon-like eyes narrow as its mouth sneers in such a way that you can almost hear it yelling “you’re fired!” In its hand, a cell phone, the tool which Trump used to garner support via Twitter and other social media platforms, many of which were recently deactivated.

Not long after it hit the scene, the Museum of London expressed their interest in the balloon, but before it made it into their vaults, the balloon made appearances at protests around the world, including those in various places in the US, Ireland, Denmark, France, and Argentina.

“Of course the museum is not political, and does not have any view about the state of politics in the States,” said Sharon Ament, director of the Museum of London. The balloon, though, was an obvious expression of frustration by people in the UK and it perfectly exemplified the satirical way that those people often address frustration. “We use humour a lot. And we poke fun at politicians,” continued Ament, “This is a big – literally – example of that.”

In a statement about the balloon and its acquisition, the creators of the Trump baby said:

“While we’re pleased that the Trump baby can now be consigned to history along with the man himself, we’re under no illusions that this is the end of the story. We hope the baby’s place in the museum will stand as a reminder of when London stood against Mr Trump – but will prompt those who see it to examine how they can continue the fight against the politics of hate. Most of all, we hope the Trump baby serves as a reminder of the politics of resistance that took place during Trump’s time in office.

“This large inflatable was just a tiny part of a global movement. A movement that was led by the marginalised people who Trump’s politics most endangered – and whose role in this moment should never be underestimated.”

The balloon will be included in the museum’s collection of protest items. It will join their ranks of ephemera used by the Suffragette movement, civil rights activist, and environmental protesters. The balloon is being held in quarantine at the museum, to ensure no bugs make their way into the collection, before it will be fitted into its new home. For the creators of the Trump baby, it is hoped that the balloon will serve as a reminder of the “policies of hate” that led to its making.