Perhaps in 100 years’ time visitors will look at the blimp as representative not of a contemporary struggle, but as part of the story of how hope overcame hate during the 2020s.
Museums often acquire artefacts before they are historical. For example, many of the items at the Museum of London related to the suffragettes were donated when the fight for women’s franchise was still going on. Recently curators have acquired placards from the anti-austerity demonstrations and the Black Lives Matter protests. Perhaps, just as with these objects, in 100 years’ time visitors will look at the blimp as representative not of a contemporary struggle, but as part of the story of how hope overcame hate during the 2020s.
Cultural institutions aren’t neutral actors in this process. In the UK, museums offer free entry and provide a space for people to encounter stories outside of their own experiences. Increasing accessibility is essential for political art: not everyone has the means or inclination to protest, and by exhibiting such objects outside of their original context they reach the widest possible audience.
One of the most exciting things about the Stop Trump movement in the UK and its star attraction, the blimp, was its ability to bring people together.
Everyone from liberals to the radical left put aside differences for a moment against a common enemy and cracked a smile. “One of the best things about Trump baby was how he stood in as a figurehead for a whole load of different people who were coming to it from different places,” says Leo Murray, the balloon’s designer. “It created a sense of collective endeavour.”
By putting the blimp in a public space, there’s an opportunity to share this spirit more widely - because if anything is going to change for the better, a sense of unity and common purpose will be vital.