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Banksy & the British Museum

Banksy, the legendary British graffiti artist / art prankster has targeted the British Museum with his latest hoax. Following on from fake exhibits in the Natural History Museum & in the Tate Modern, he has placed a cave painting of a man with a shopping trolley in one of the galleries at the British Museum. From pictures it did look similar in appearance to the surrounding artefacts, so I can understand how people might not have spotted it. It was up for two days in the museum before anyone spotted it (& this only appeared to happen after Banksy had mentioned it on his own website [1].

From:
BBC News [2]

Last Updated: Thursday, 19 May, 2005, 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Cave art hoax hits British Museum
Fake prehistoric rock art of a caveman with a shopping trolley has been hung on the walls of the British Museum.

The rock was put there by art prankster Banksy, who has previously put works in galleries in London and New York.

A British Museum spokeswoman said they were “seeing the lighter side of it”. She said it went unnoticed for one or two days but Banksy said three days.

Banksy also hung a sign saying the cave art showed “early man venturing towards the out-of-town hunting grounds”.

It read: “This finely preserved example of primitive art dates from the Post-Catatonic era.

“The artist responsible is known to have created a substantial body of work across South East of England under the moniker Banksymus Maximus but little else is known about him.

“Most art of this type has unfortunately not survived. The majority is destroyed by zealous municipal officials who fail to recognise the artistic merit and historical value of daubing on walls.”

Banksy is best-known as a graffiti artist who has attracted a cult following for stencilled designs that satirise authority and modern society.

He hung his own art in the Tate Britain in London in October 2003, which was not noticed until it fell to the ground, and has done the same in four New York galleries.

The British Museum praised the way his rock was hung and the style of the sign, which was “very similar” to their own design.

A spokesperson for Banksy said he sneaked the work into the museum on Monday and it was found on Wednesday.

He ran a competition on his website for fans to have their photographs taken with the rock, offering a shopping trolley as a prize.

A British Museum spokeswoman said: “We’re reasonably confident that it hadn’t been up for that long, maybe a couple of days.

“It looked very much in keeping with the other exhibits, the explanatory text was quite similar.”

It is now being exhibited at Banksy’s new show, Outside Institute, which opens in London on Friday. It will have a sign saying it is “on loan from the British Museum”.

The British Museum spokesperson said they were expecting it back when Outside Institute ends in June.

“He has said to us that we can keep it,” she said.