An exhibition that hails itself "the first of its kind" opened in Rome on May 24 showing the works of British street artist Banksy.

Banksy's identity has never been revealed, but his subversive murals, sculptures and ironic epigrams have become highly sought after in the art world he satirises.

He has had nothing to do with "War, Capitalism & Liberty" - the new show of about 150 works, which organisers are at pains to point out have all been lent by private collectors and not ripped off the street. 

Co-curator Acoris Andipa said all the pieces, including images of a protester poised to throw a bunch of flowers and two children holding a heart-shaped balloon as they stand on a pile of guns, had been bought on the various occasions when the artist has put his work on sale around the world.

''The exhibition is very exciting because it is the first independent museum exhibition undertaken, especially of its scale and size" said exhibition curator Acoris Andipa.

Banksy Rome Street artist Banksy's work displayed in a public art gallery in Rome, May 24, 2016. Photo: Reuters

"It's the first time an independent museum, a public museum has been courageous enough to take on an exhibition like this'' he said.

Banksy, believed to have been born in Bristol, England, in the 1970s, has arranged his own exhibitions in the past, communicating through written statements. 

''I think, firstly, there is a certain romance in the tale, isn't there, that there is a sort of unknown Robin Hood of the 21st century. I think, that in itself, has a certain enchantment about it. But more importantly, it is his work. His work speaks to a lot of people, it is very clear, it's very topical and I think it is very intelligent'' said Andipa.

''This exhibition is drawn only from private international collections. The artist is not involved or associated in the exhibition and he would never be at least for many, many years to come associated directly in any museum exhibitionary" Andipa said. 

Last year, Banksy opened a "Dismaland" theme park at the English seaside, where staff carried balloons proclaiming "I'm an imbecile" and model boats full of refugees floated in a pond. 

A 2009 show in Bristol brought more than 300,000 fans from around the world.

Entry to Dismaland cost a modest 3 pounds ($4.35) but the sale of a painting Banksy left on the door of a cash-strapped British youth club in 2014 - and then told the club it could keep - reportedly raised more than 400,000 pounds. 

"War, Capitalism & Liberty", organised by non-profit group Fondazione Terzo Pilastro, runs from May 24 to September 4. Tickets are on sale for 12 euros.