Banksy and Bristol Museums

Read about the 2009 exhibition Banksy versus Bristol Museum and see what’s on display at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery and M Shed.

Banksy versus Bristol Museum

In the summer of 2009 Bristol Museum & Art Gallery was taken over by an extraordinary exhibition of works by the infamous Bristol artist Banksy called Banksy versus Bristol Museum.

Overnight the museum was transformed into a menagerie of Unnatural History – fishfingers swimming in a gold-fish bowl, hot-dogs and chicken nuggets. Paintings were placed in amongst the historic collections of Old Masters, sculptures and other pieces dotted around throughout the museum displays.

The main entrance was transformed into a sculpture hall, accompanied by a burnt out ice-cream van that pumped out an eerie sound-track of warped tunes, whilst a giant ice-cream melted on its roof.

Banksy left one sculpture behind. Pictured here is the Angel Bust – or the paint-pot angel. See it on display in the front hall at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery.

Before long, people queued around the block to get into the exhibition, some as long as seven hours just to be part of this unique phenomenon. Over 100 works by the artist – most of which had not been shown before – were displayed.

Banksy also gave another work to the museum of a sculpture of Jerusalem, which was made by another artist called Tawfiq Salsaa and modified by Banksy.

Related objects

Banksy books in our shop

Banksy Wall and Piece

Image of Banksy Wall and Piece

There’s no way you’re going to get a quote from us to use on your book cover” – Metropolitan Police spokesperson

This book, first published in 2006, takes Banksy’s first three books and brings them together along with some narrative from Banksy himself. See photos of his early work in Bristol and then read and see how his work gets bigger and spreads around the world. 

  • Author Banksy
  • ISBN 9781844137879
  • Paperback
  • 240 pages
  • Publisher – Century
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    Banksy Myths & Legends Volume 1

    Image of Banksy Myths & Legends Volume 1

    Banksy Myths & Legends is a book of tall tales, urban legends and the occasional true story that surround the anonymous street artist.

    Banksy has always been shrouded in mystery and this little black book by Marc Leverton explores the myths and legends that surround this anonymous street artist.

    • Author: Marc Leverton
    • ISBN: 978-1908211019
    • Paperback: 96 pages

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    Banksy’s Grim Reaper

    banksy's grim reaper

    In August 2014, Banksy’s Grim Reaper was removed from the steel hull of the ship and club venue Thekla. It’s now on display at M Shed outside the Bristol Life gallery.

    Banksy painted the Grim Reaper onto the ship and nightclub venue around 2003 but exposure to the elements was causing ongoing deterioration, with the tag having disappeared completely.

    While the Thekla was in dry dock in 2014, DHP Family removed the Grim Reaper from just above the waterline on the ship’s steel hull and arranged to loan the valuable artwork to us on a long term basis.

    Also on display at M Shed is Banksy’s Tesco Value Petrol Bomb poster, produced after the anti-Tesco riots in Stokes Croft in April 2011. See it in the Bristol People gallery.

    Mobile Lovers

    Mobile Lovers was discovered on a wall in Clement Street, Bristol in April 2014 and removed by staff from nearby Riverside Youth Project. It shows two lovers locked in an embrace while looking at their mobile phones.

    The work was on display at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery from mid-April to the end of August 2014, when the city offered to display it securely while clarity was sought over the artist’s intentions for the work.

    The work was returned to Riverside Youth Project who sold it at auction, with all the proceeds going to them.

    Banksy’s Devolved Parliament

    painting of chimpanzees in parliament

    From March to September 2019 Banksy’s Devolved Parliament painting went back on display at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery to mark 10 years since the Banksy versus Bristol Museum exhibition.

    The painting is the artists’ largest work on canvas and was shown thanks to a loan from its owner.

    Children of the Can: Bristol Graffiti & Street Art

    Image of Children of the Can: Bristol Graffiti & Street Art

    Children of the Can explores the Bristol street art and graffiti scene with full colour images, featuring more than 80 of Bristol’s most prolific street artists and graffiti writers.

    Author Felix ‘FLX’ Braun started writing graffiti in the mid-80s and grew up with the Bristol scene. He continues to live and paint in the city and has unrivalled access to the artists and their work.

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