Trump Baby, the 20-foot-high blimp that initially popped up in Great Britain when President Trump was making an appearance there and then spawned a number of imitations, has been donated to the Museum of London by its creators.
The helium balloon was designed by British activists to protest Trump and his policies in the first half of his administration. It depicts Trump as a pouting orange baby in a diaper, with tiny hands and a combover, clutching a smartphone to send out messages back when he was still allowed to tweet.
An instant hit on social media, the balloon became one of the most widely publicized works of graphic art in the world at the time, on par with Delaware artist Kristen Visbal’s Fearless Girl statue in lower Manhattan. Later following Trump to Scotland, it got a rise out of the president, who told The Sun that it made him feel “unwelcome.”
The creators also made a half-sized version that was more mobile and took it to protests in Trafalgar Square and other locations. Those first two balloons, in turn, inspired a number of copies in the U.S. and other countries but neither of the originals ever came to the United States. One of the last sightings of a Trump Baby clone was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the site of a June 20, 2020, reelection rally that became a COVID-19 super-spreader event.
The Trump Baby that was donated to the Museum of London is the original full-sized version that flew over Parliament Square and inspired all the others. The museum announced this week that this Trump Baby will become part of its “protest” collection, which also includes items from peace rallies, climate change gatherings, and events dating back to the Suffragette movement. Staffers have indicated it may be displayed in a new home the museum is planning on West Smithfield in London.
The museum first expressed interest in acquiring the original blimp in 2019 because of the statement it made when Londoners gathered in the streets to protest Trump’s visit the year before.
Director Sharon Ament said the blimp will serve as a reminder of the way tens of thousands of people marched in central London as the balloon flew over Parliament Square, to show their disapproval of the President and his policies.
“From the Suffragettes of the early twentieth century to the anti-austerity marches, free speech, and Black Lives Matter most recently—the capital has always been the place to have your say,” she said in a statement.
“By collecting the baby blimp we can mark the wave of feeling that washed over the city that day and capture a particular moment of resistance—a feeling still relevant today as we live through these exceptionally challenging times—that ultimately shows Londoners banding together in the face of extreme adversity.”
Creation of the blimp has been credited to a British activist named Leo Murray, who came up with the idea for the balloon, and a graphic designer named Matt Bonner, who executed the concept.
Seeing how effective the British blimp was at reflecting feelings about Trump, a group of activists in America raised money with a GoFundMe campaign to “deliver” four clones of the original Trump Baby and send them around the country to places where Trump was holding rallies or otherwise traveling. So much money poured in that the group had to stop accepting donations.
The Americans behind the “Baby Trump Tour” in the U. S. included Didier Jiminez-Castro, New Jersey-based social worker and activist, and Jim Girvan, part of a group called the People’s Motorcade that staged protests at the Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, New Jersey.
The Americans said they were inspired by the British blimp and wanted similar ones in America to take from “border to border.” They were successful in bringing their blimps all around the country and then posting messages on social media so people would know where they would show up next.
The creators of the original blimp say they’re happy it has found a home and hope it will continue to send a message.
“While we’re pleased that the Trump Baby can now be consigned to history along with the man himself, we’re under no illusions that this is the end of the story,” the group said in a statement.
“We hope the baby’s place in the museum will stand as a reminder of when London stood against Trump –but will prompt those who see it to examine how they can continue the fight against the politics of hate.”
Kevin Smith, one of the “babysitters” who brought the British blimp to life, said in an email message that the original half-size Trump Baby was damaged at one point when a “very disturbed” woman in London cut it with a knife, but it was subsequently repaired.
Smith said the creators are holding on to that version but have no plans to fly it again. “We’re glad its time has passed, like the Trump presidency,” he said.