People need this! We need new ideas and new places where people meet. Global symbols like Big Ben stand up straight and never change but the world is always changing.’
Marta Minujín

Big Ben has quit Westminster and come to Manchester – to give itself to us, the people.

Come to Piccadilly Gardens to explore a monumental new work of art: a colossal 42m replica of Big Ben. Lying almost horizontal and covered in 20,000 copies of books that have shaped British politics, this temporary landmark will inspire new conversations about what we value – conversations drawing from Manchester’s unique and independent spirit.

Installed in the heart of the city throughout MIF21, this vast artwork will be free to see. Then at the end of the Festival, come back to watch a ceremony in which Big Ben will be taken apart – and take home a book for free.

Big Ben Lying Down with Political Books is the first major UK commission by Argentine artist Marta Minujín, who creates extraordinary large-scale artworks and participatory performances that put socially engaged art at the heart of everyday life. The latest instalment in her series The Fall of Universal Myths, Big Ben Lying Down with Political Books is a joyful invitation for us to reimagine our national symbols – and to unite around democracy and equality.

You can also experience Big Ben Lying Down with Political Books online during MIF21 – details to follow.

Commissioned and produced by Manchester International Festival.


Image credit: Mario Cherrutti and Marta Minujín Archive

Essential Information


The safety of our audiences, artists, volunteers and staff is our highest priority. As well as following all government and industry guidelines, we’re working closely with specialist safety consultants to ensure all our venues are COVID-safe and secure for everyone. You can read more details about our safety measures on our Visit Us page, which we’ll update regularly between now and the Festival.


We want to ensure everyone has the chance to enjoy MIF21: in person at live events, through our free public artworks and online. We’ll announce access performances and provide detailed access information when tickets go on sale. If you’d like to receive news about access performances by email, register for an MIF account, click ‘Other Preferences’, select your access requirement and then click ‘Email me updates about accessible events at MIF’.