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Venice Banksy Mural to be Restored
Editorial / Banksy

Venice Banksy Mural to be Restored

10 Oct 2023 | 3 min read

Damaged Banksy mural in Venice to be restored

Italy's culture ministry has announced the restoration of a damaged Banksy mural in Venice, known as "Migrant Child" (2019).

This has sparked debate about whether the work should be allowed to naturally deteriorate due to Street Art's ephemeral nature. The restoration will be funded by an unnamed "important bank" as announced by Vittorio Sgarbi, an undersecretary in Italy's culture ministry. This mural, which has become a big tourist attraction over the years, depicts a child holding a flare and wearing a life vest and is one of two works attributed to Banksy in Italy. The piece is depicted on the wall of a historic building lining the Rio Novo canal, near Campo San Pantalon located in Venice’s Dorsoduro district.

Banksy in Venice for the Venice Bienalle 2019. Photo: Banksy
Banksy's Migrant Child mural (2019) shown in a damaged state last year. Photo: Natalie Chalk / Alamy Stock Photo

Over the years, exposure to Venice's damp environment has caused significant damage to the artwork, facing bad weather, humidity, water and salt. This has lead to discussions among locals and the wider art community regarding conservation and its cultural significance. Some have argued that the transient nature of street art was essential and questioned the need for restoration. However, Italian law does not grant protection to public art created less than 70 years ago, allowing the culture ministry to step in and make the decision.

Vittorio Sgarbi, an undersecretary in Italy's culture ministry, asserted responsibility for the restoration, emphasising the ministry's role in safeguarding contemporary art, regardless of the artist's permission, as the mural was created illegally. “I take the responsibility for this restoration given that contemporary art is part of my remit, and it is my job to protect it,” Sgarbi said in the statement. The decision to restore the Banksy mural has brought closure to the debate over its fate, with the ministry prioritising preservation over the artwork's ephemeral origins.

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