There is a tendency to think of art conservators as serious types, dabbing minutely at priceless paintings with Q-tips, but this week, conservation experts at the Museum of London set their sights on a quite hilarious art object: a giant inflatable effigy of the United States’s most ridiculous president.
Created in 2018 by Leo Murray, the “Trump Baby” blimp was intended to be raised as a temporary form of peaceful protest during Trump’s state visit to London in July of that year. But the massive infant balloon, which sports a diaper and clutches a cell phone, blew up both literally and figuratively, traveling all around the United Kingdom. A petition to fly the bossy baby outside the Trump Turnberry golf course in Scotland gained thousands of signatures, though ultimately this was not permitted.
And in 2021, the Museum of London picked up the Trump baby in a loving embrace for its protest art collection, which includes banners, flags, and tents dating back at least a century to Britain’s suffrage movement. The blimp was donated to the institution, and though Director Sharon Ament told the BBC at the time that the museum was “not political and does not have any view about the state of politics in the States,” they felt the balloon had touched on something fundamental to British character, in terms of satire.
“We use humour a lot,” said Ament. “And we poke fun at politicians. This is a big — literally — example of that.”
Now, conservative politics take a back seat to the politics of conservation. Reports note that the museum characterizes the Trump inflatable as a challenge due to its intended use as a “short-lived” object.
“It was made to be … a quick, flexible and visible icon, as opposed to the permanent statues in Parliament Square made from the much more durable materials,” a spokesperson from the Museum of London said. “Plastics age and break down in sometimes unexpected ways, so this will help us establish how we can best preserve it in the long-term as part of our collection.”
This week, the museum employed a specialist firm in Chelmsford to re-inflate the baby and check for any needed repairs. It’s a good thing too, because as the FBI can attest, the right loves to leak!
The test inflation is the final step in preparing the item for possible display at the museum’s new location in West Smithfield, set to open in 2026.
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