street art

Sneaking art into Museums

Every so often I get a press release that makes me groan. The one below made me groan even louder than normal. People sneak things into museums all the time – the Louvre claim they get at least one person a week doing this. Banksy famously did it around 2005 with a great deal of style and when the idea seemed a bit fresher. Even I did it in Tate Modern back in 2003 with an Adam Neate painting when I took it on a tour of London landmarks. Sneaking things into a museum and putting them up is not difficult and has probably been going on for as long as there have been museums. As Banksy pointed out back in 2005 Museum’s are more concerned with people taking paintings out (as I found out when I tried to take my Adam Neate painting down after its short visit)!

Whatever, this is not really a criticism of what the artist has done – its more about the hyperbole of “For Immediate Release” PR nonsense such as the text below. And if you want to know what the’controversial’ ‘bold art movement’ of ‘fine art graffiti’ apparently looks like click here.


Controversial Graffiti Artist Strikes the Guggenheim

Upper East Side, New York, NY. August 2, 2009 – In an odd twist to the museum heist story, the opposite scene took place at the Guggenheim this weekend.  Instead of priceless artwork being stolen, a piece of art was added to the museum’s permanent collection in the form of a gift by the artist known as Mat Benote.
The incident occurred during the museum’s normal business hours. Without notice from security cameras, museum guards or the thousands of patrons in attendance, the controversial artist managed to install his artwork in one of the finest museums in the world.  This bold art movement is what the artist describes as Fine Art Graffiti.
“I want to illustrate that graffiti can be a positive influence in a community when applied properly, and as an art form, has as much right to be displayed in a museum as any other form of art.”
This is not a new occurrence for the artist.  His works have already appeared in the permanent collections of many museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. “But the question must be asked, is this artistic expression, or just a new form of vandalism?”

7 thoughts on “Sneaking art into Museums

  • Anonymous

    There are so many other ways to make the point that graffiti art can have a positive influence on community – homelessness charity SHP have been working with street artists like Matt Small for over a year now, using graffiti type art as a way of generatring inclusivity (something some galleries need to work on).
    Check out their summer arts festival – ARTIVAL
    Queen of Hoxton, Shoreditch. August 22nd
    Matt Small will be handing out spray cans for anyone who wants to give it a try. It's free for anyone with a flyer, downloadable from

  • Anonymous

    Headline launch event for homeless enterprise…Saturday, 22 August 2009

    Having just released her critically acclaimed debut ‘Speech Therapy’, spoken word hip-hop artist and Mercury Prize nominee, Speech Debelle, will be joined by folk new comer Betty Steeles who will release her debut later this year. Also appearing live is Jazz Soulstress – Floetic Lara and electro new wave sensations Rubicks. The bill also includes visual artist Matt Small (2008's Best Urban Artist) in launching a brand new arts-based enterprise concept run by homelessness charity, SHP. The launch, a one-day arts festival, will take place on the 22nd August at the Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch. The venue’s four floors will be transformed into stages for live music, poetry, drama and comedy, whilst on the rooftop terrace Matt Small will lead all festival-goers in a live art session with mosaic-making and street art painting.
    While SHP plans to make Artival an annual celebration of arts and inclusivity, this inaugural Artival launches a new SHP enterprise, where young people will be involved in designing, creating and selling T-shirts to raise funds for further arts based workshops and events. The first designs will be on sale at Artival. SHP was set up more than 30 years ago to support London’s vulnerable homeless people. Today the charity works with 2,000 people a year across 13 London boroughs, providing a wide range of accommodation and support services to prevent homelessness and promote social inclusion.
    Entry is free to all with a flyer and available @

  • Anonymous

    great piece, i agree alot with what you’re saying about museum space. to me banksy pieces should never be hung in galleries as the natural surrounding and context is mutated past its original purpose. Mike Ballard does paintings that seem to merge between street and graffiti art and gallery/museum distinct display art at the same time: , what do you think?

  • Anonymous

    Hmmm, this reply was posted from New York (the same source as the original PR email).
    It claims 'the artist might be worth watching'.
    I think I smell a rat (with a large PR kit in tow).

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Tom
    I'm surprised at Juxtapoz just trotting out press releases.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *