Banksy in San Francisco: What Parents Need to Know - 510 Families
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Banksy in San Francisco: What Parents Need to Know

Thank you to The Art of Banksy San Francisco for inviting me and my husband to a media preview of this show. We enjoyed it A LOT as a date night and attempt to offer our advice to you, parent-to-parent.

Recommended for teens, adults, and subversive pre-teens with an anti-Capitalist sensibility, the Unauthorized Art of Banksy touring show in San Francisco is pretty great for its desired audience. For a limited time at the Palace of Fine Arts, we can all enjoy iconic street art in a gallery setting. As a date night, it was practically perfect.

Banksy flowers picture in a gallery
Credit Kyle Flubacker via The Art of Banksy Chicago

What to Know About This Exhibit

There are over 100 original works on display. This traveling exhibit is the largest Banksy collection assembled in one place. If you’re a fan, it is quite special.

This exhibit is unauthorized. Banksy is not going to show up or make any money from what you spend in the gift shop.

The gallery path is a single-file maze through several rooms of paintings, prints, quotes, videos, and objects. You can also play a dozen 30-second explainer messages by keying numbers found on the wall into your free handheld audio tour device — finding them is like a scavenger hunt. The whole art experience was about 45 minutes to an hour.

Lots of insider info. One of Banksy’s close associates, Ben, appears throughout the exhibit in a handful of brief videos telling anecdotes and adding lots more vivid details to whatever you thought you knew. Ben has a mask on his wrist, so the stories feel recent. Additional quotes and factoids are written on the walls. There are references to happenings as recent as October 2021 — last month!

There are some fun photo opportunities at the end. This one (below) cracked me up. Another one encourages you to reach for the red balloon or the bouquet of flowers.

banksy words this is not a photo opportunity
Photo: Heather Flett

What Parents Need to Know about Banksy

Girl with Balloon by Banksy
Girl with Balloon by Banksy | Photo: Kyle Flubacker via The Art of Banksy Chicago

Banksy is an anonymous, anti-capitalist, graffiti artist with a biting sense of humor. His art is eye-catching and imaginative, but if your child can’t handle police officers giving the middle finger, social commentary that bashes Disneyland, or ironic portrayals of Jesus — you best stay away.

When my ten-year-old looked at the photo above, he asked, “Why does that smiley face have a machine gun and wings?” What would your child say? And are you cool with that?

If your children are in middle school or high school and have been educated in that ultra-liberal Berkeley fashion, they’ll probably do fine.

banksy remote and subversive jesus painting
Are you ready to introduce your children to bold street art that critiques Jesus and Mickey Mouse together? Cool, let’s go. | Photo: Heather Flett

Plan your visit to The Art of Banksy in San Francisco

  • Days and Hours: Open November 22, 2021 – February 27, 2022, from 10 am to 8 pm except Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Location: Palace of Fine Arts, 3601 Lyon Street, San Francisco.
  • Price: Adults $40, Children (6 to 16): $30, Under 5: Free.
  • Parking: Free at the Palace of Fine Arts.
  • Website for booking and more information >
Palace of Fine Arts exterior
Palace of Fine Arts | Photo: Alec Flett

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3 thoughts on “Banksy in San Francisco: What Parents Need to Know”

  1. Banksy is perhaps one of the most important modern artists in the world. I strongly disagree with this review’s assumption that only older children “educated in the ultra-liberal Berkeley fashion” (which sounds incredibly condescending and perjorative) should see Banksy’s artwork. Take your child to see Banksy!!! Educate your child about why his artwork is so path-breaking. If you are unfamiliar with Banksy, watch youtube videos exploring his work and significance. The reviewer for 510 families missed what an amazing opportunity Bay Area children have to see who is generally regarded as one of the most important living artists and a pioneer in his field. Take your child to see Banksy!!! Don’t miss this amazing educational opportunity!!

    1. The 510 Review also states that Banksy’s artwork “critiques Jesus,” when the picture actually is a critique of the commercialization of Christmas, depicting Jesus being burdened by holiday consumerism. This is an important distinction. Take your children to see Banksy!!! It’s an incredible opportunity!!!

      (Or if you choose not to, opt out because Banksy didn’t authorize this museum show and is against the idea of elites showing art in museums, charging $$$$ to those who can afford it before ushering paid visitors out via an “Exit Through the Gift Shop.”)

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