For the first time in as long as I can remember I discovered something from traditional old school advertising. There was a poster, slapped up on a lamppost near Centraal Station in Amsterdam advertising the Banksy exhibition. I had no idea that there could actually be a Banksy exhibition given the nature of his street art/graffiti, but googled it and found that the exhibition was genuine, and right there in Amsterdam until the end of August.
Reading a bit more about it, I found out that Banksy does actually do prints and stencil artwork as well as his world famous graffiti, so it would be his genuine work. On day 2 of my trip to Amsterdam I was going up to the Museumplein area of the city anyway, which is exactly where the exhibition is.
I love this particular area of the city, and it’s even nicer when you arrive there by canal boat and can see all the affluent area, greenery and mansions from a different perspective. After wandering through the Rijksmuseum archways, and over to Van Gogh Museum, I got what I needed for work purposes, and decided I needed a break from the sun so might as well see how much the Banksy display was.
Banksy is located in the Moco Museum, which is a converted old mansion similar to others in the area, that was built in 1904. It was beautiful from the outside, so much smaller than the other museums, but probably the one with the most character. You could easily miss it, in the shadow of the Rijksmuseum and looking so residential, but the iconic Banksy red balloons flying at the entrance gives it away.
The exhibition is actually of two artists, Banksy and Salvador Dali, so there were also Dali tributes outside at closer look too. There were a good few people there, but nothing like the queues for the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh. It was only €12 to get in, and they’re very relaxed about people taking photos.
Inside it was still set out like a house, and the artwork was displayed as though it would be at home, in hallway walls and above the fireplaces. All of the typical and recognisable Banksy prints are there, including Battle of the Beanfield which takes pride of place in one of the rooms on the ground floor.
Of course ‘There is Always Hope’, otherwise known as the girl with the red balloon is there too, and is one of the first pieces you see in the main hallway. Different versions of this one feature throughout the entire exhibition that spans two full floors.
Other prints include ‘Love is in the Air’ and ‘Bomb hugger’, both resembling war, riots and conflict with an underlying message of hope. (Ooh look there’s a bit of my old art A level finally being put to use!).
The Banksy exhibition isn’t just prints though, you could almost miss the incredible ‘Prayer Boy’ stained glass window as you pass it. You can walk past and not even realise until you’re up on the second floor looking back at it.
Then there’s the occasional street art pieces like traffic cones, wooden and concrete slabs, that were once original banksy’s on the side of buildings or walls that were later torn down. They’ve been recovered from the rubble and are right there in Moco museum.
The Moco Museum is just as impressive inside as it is out, both in terms of the Banksy display and the house itself. The windows offer fabulous views over the Museumplein and over to the Rijksmuseum, and it is the least ‘museum-y’ museum I’ve ever been in.
The basement floors hold the Dali exhibition, but I didn’t have time to take a look at this, but on the way out there’s more still to come.
The rear of the house and garden have some outdoor pieces, the giant swat truck from and a few bits from Dismaland. In keeping with Banksy’s own style, the exhibition keeps on surprising and you never know when another Banksy will appear.
The museum district of Amsterdam is one of my favourite areas, and not just for the museums. Find out more about the area in this post, on the entire Museum Quarter.
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