Banksy Arrives in New York City

Over 160 pieces from one of the world’s most mysterious contemporary artists are now on display in downtown Manhattan.

| 22 May 2024 | 01:22

No, the artist himself has not arrived in our city. After all, no one knows where or how the enigmatic figure named Banksy even lives. But New York City does now have a new museum that contains the largest collection of works credited to, or inspired by, him.

Located at Canal and Broadway, The Banksy Museum displays over 160 works by—arguably—the world’s most famous street artist. These recreate the revolutionary, and often ephemeral, art that the British-born artist has painted on surfaces in London, Bristol, Paris, Venice, Bethlehem, Los Angeles, and beyond. Visitors to the museum can immerse themselves in a truly environmental experience.

Beyond the iconic street art, the exhibition also features some of the artist's studio work, as well as animated visual and video elements. Hazis Vardar, the museum’s founder, also opened one in Paris five years ago. “It is still running,” he says proudly.

Why so much time and effort spent on an artist who gave graffiti glitter, has attracted fans all over the world, and yet insists on remaining anonymous? “Banksy is a revolution,” Vardar says, “He’s an artist who speaks about people and always on point.” Adds the new museum’s Executive Director, William Meade, “we recreate his work, respecting the rules of street rights, and we do it in real time. Most important with Banksy, is you understand the meaning.” And meaning there is, in every work lining the walls or standing erect (as his red phone booth) inside this nondescript, but transformed, three-story building.

Politically astute? Always, and yes, Ukraine, and emblems like swastikas, enter the canvas. There is the famous depiction of refugees, which is nothing less than shattering. The stencil shows a group of desperate survivors on a raft after a wreck.

It was a nod to the notorious "Jungle" refugee camp in France that housed thousands of refugees hoping to get to Britain. It was one of three that the elusive artist produced in 2015 on the theme of migrants. His works have sold to bidders like Brad Pitt and many others. One called “game changer” sold at Christies for $23 million. But Banksy apparently wants no part of such commercialism. He remains so mysterious some have even wondered if there is a collective of sorts, more than one man, behind the work.

Meanwhile, if you can’t make it downtown, Manhattan has its own original Banksy, near Eli’s, on W. 79th St. and Broadway. That would be the “Boy With The Hammer.” (Hey, wouldn’t he rather have a bagel?) This mysterious creator doesn’t want the personal adulation perhaps, but this new museum is truly something to brag about.

The museum is spread over 15,000 sq. ft on the second and third floors of the three-story Oltarsh Building located at 277 Canal Street in Lower Manhattan. When it opened in 1927 it contained a theater.

The address is just off the Manhattan Bridge in Chinatown, and can be accessed by the N, Q, R and W subway lines.

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, with last entry at 7:15 p.m.

Tickets cost $30 and can be purchased online here. Discounted rates for the following groups:

*Students and teachers: $26

*Seniors over 60: $26

*Groups of 5 or more: $26 per person

*Family of 5 or less (at least 1 adult, 2 children): $21 per person

*Military, fire department, city police officers: $21

*Children 6 to 12: $21

*Children under 6: Free