Exhibition of defaced currencies will include Harry and Meghan banknote

Defaced! Money, Conflict, Protest will open at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge in October.

14 August 2022

An exhibition of money that has been defaced as “cries of anger” in the name of art, including £10 banknotes featuring the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, will open later this year.

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge announced that Defaced! Money, Conflict, Protest will open in October.

The exhibition “presents a world history of protest from the last 250 years through currencies that have been mutilated as cries of anger, injustice, mockery or despair”, the museum said.

It is the first major exhibition to display money used as a public canvas for political and social rebellion throughout 250 years of history.

A banknote featuring an image of the Duchess of Sussex (University of Cambridge/PA)
A banknote featuring an image of the Duchess of Sussex (University of Cambridge/PA)

For the first time, it will showcase a new collection of defaced banknotes and coins which has been acquired for the museum by curator Dr Richard Kelleher.

Harry and Meghan appear in a 2019 work by Boo Whorlow called Harry of England/Ten Megs, a reworking of Banksy’s Di-Faced Tenner which featured Diana, Princess of Wales.

In the work, Harry replaces the Queen while Meghan appears on the reverse with the message “Trust No Press”.

A mocked-up banknote (Fitzwilliam Museum/PA)
A mocked-up banknote featuring Harriet Tubman (University of Cambridge/PA)

Other pieces include a fake 20 US dollar bill with US slavery abolitionist Harriet Tubman on it and a coin commemorating the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, when 15 people were killed at a protest meeting in Manchester as the working-class fought for political representation.

Artist Sean Kushner created a satire which features Donald Trump on a colourful one US dollar banknote saying: “Maybe bae will buy me a wall” with a smaller illustration of Russian President Vladimir Putin next to him, hinting at the alleged links between the two.

The Fitzwilliam Museum said: “Money is the perfect medium to highlight issues of wealth distribution, including the chasm between those at the top and the bottom, and the effects on those living in poverty.

“Money, both as a physical and theoretical entity, has been used by artists to draw attention to the links between government policy and the financial and banking systems.

“In our pandemic age where the use of money is increasingly being replaced by digital methods of payment, and against the backdrop of the current cost of living crisis, times of inflation and spiralling costs and debt, the exhibition’s themes in which currency has been, and continues to be, created and defaced remain urgently relevant.”

:: The exhibition will run from October 11 to January 8 2023 and admission will be free.

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