Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on email

Banksy Museum Pranks, 2003-2005


Banksy Museum Pranks (2003-2005)


Between October 2003 and May 2005, Banksy walked into some of the most highly regarded and significant museums in London and New-York in order to place some of his artworks. Of course, as is always the case with Banksy, it was not just any artwork – each was meticulously prepared to send a very specific message. Some of these stunts were even recorded on video by his associates.

Banksy Interview About Museum Pranks

Tate Britain, London, 2003

On 17 October 2003, Banksy entered Tate Britain disguised as a pensioner and stuck one of his own creations in a vacant slot on one of the gallery’s walls.
On this occasion he placed his painting, Crimewatch UK Has Ruined the Countryside For All of Us, a serene, peaceful looking landscape covered with police tape. After a few hours the painting crashed to the floor and the stunt was discovered.


“I’m kinda into the message that vandalizing a painting with police tape is how a lot of people see the world these days. People don’t actually see the world with Constable’s eyes with hay and rivers any more. The amount of paranoia and fear about violent crime and pedophilia makes mine a more accurate drawing of the English landscape we actually live in.”

Making An Exhibition of Yourself

Banksy, Cut It Out, December 2004

“To actually go through the process of having a painting selected must be quite boring. It’s a lot more fun to go and put your own one up. It’s all about cutting out the middle man, or the curator in the case of the Tate.”


“This new acquisition is a beautiful example of the neo post-idiotic style. Little is known about Banksy whose work is inspired by cannabis resin and daytime television.”

Banksy, Cut It Out, December 2004


Louvre Museum, Paris, 2004


On October 2004, Banksy entered the Louvre Museum where he hung his own version of Mona Lisa. Mona Lisa‘s iconic smile had been replaced with a yellow, acid smiley face. This painting was entitled Mona Lisa Smile. Two years later, the painting was sold at auction for nearly £60,000.
There is no public indication of how long the painting was left.

Installation in the Louvre

Banksy, Cut It Out, December 2004

The National History Museum, London, 2004

On 7 April 2004, Banksy entered the Natural History Museum disguised as an employee, carrying a taxidermied rat in a glass-fronted box.
Banksy, Cut It Out
The rat wears sunglasses and a complete graffiti kit. Apparently, he has sprayed “Our time will come” on the wall behind him. The installation came with a printed explanation titled “Pest Control.” A few years later, Banksy set up his own certification office naming it “Pest Control Office.”


Pest Control – Banksus Militus Vandalus, 2004
Taxidermy rat, spray-paint, paper, and mixed media in framed box
63.5 x48.5 x 11.5 cm (25 x 19 x 4 1/2 inches)

The British Museum, London, 2005

In May 2005, Banksy installed a piece of concrete in the British Museum’s Roman Britain Gallery. The concrete piece depicted a crudely drawn, primitive caveman with a shopping cart in the foreground and a buffalo that has been wounded by two arrows in the background.
Entitled Peckham Rock,” the installation mimicked standard museum practice with a label that had a title, description, and even a fake identification (accession) number.
Banksy‘s placement was so good, in fact, that the piece remained on display for three days before the museum took notice, and only after reading about the stunt through Banksy’s own website.


“This finely preserved example of primitive art dates from the Post-Catatonic era and is thought to depict early man venturing towards the out-of-town hunting grounds. The artist responsible is known to have created a substantial body of work across the 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 recognize the artistic merit and historical value of daubing on walls.”


New-York Museums, 2005


On 13 March 2005,  Banksy enters and hangs his work in four world famous New York museums: The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum and The American Museum of Natural History.


Banksy installed Graffiti Lord at the Brooklyn Museum and Woman with Gas Mask at the Metropolitan Museum.


Modified Canvas, installed (with prosthetic nose and beard)
New York Metropolitan Museum 2005, lasted 2 hours


Banksy, Wall and Piece, 2006


Banksy installed Tesco Value Tomato Soup at the Museum of Modern Art

Withus Oragainstus at The Natural History Museum