Henry Moore Institute announces refurbishment plans to enhance learning spaces and audience experience
Henry Moore Institute, the international sculpture centre in the heart of Leeds, will temporarily close from 27 November 2023 while we refurbish our internal spaces. This will be the Institute’s first major refurbishment in its thirty-year history.
- Henry Moore Institute will close for renovation from 27 November 2023 until summer 2024.
- The refurbishment will include a new dedicated public engagement workshop, an improved welcome area and Research Library entrance, refreshed activity space and new toilets/baby changing facilities.
- Sustainability is important to the project, with the installation of solar panels on the roof and environmentally friendly materials and approaches throughout.
- A significant milestone for the Institute as the first major refurbishment its thirty-year year history.
The Institute’s founder Henry Moore (1898–1986) was passionate about education. His commitment to giving people access to learning about sculpture was his motivation for establishing the Henry Moore Foundation, and led to the creation of the Institute which today houses a gallery, Research Library and Leeds Museums & Galleries’ Archive of Sculptors’ Papers.
Following these guiding principles, we established a programme of free-to-visit sculpture exhibitions for all to enjoy; research events which look in-depth at new thinking on sculpture; engagement activities for young people, families, community groups and schools, and dynamic digital content examining sculpture, how it is made and the artists who make it.
Responding to a growth in our audiences, changing visitor expectations of a modern cultural venue and the importance of our engagement work with young people, this development is critical to ensuring we can take our charitable aims even further.
Like many cultural venues, we must also fill the void as creative subjects continue to be removed from the curriculum. To better accommodate school visits, we are converting one of our current staff meeting spaces into new, multifunctional learning and engagement facilities that will host creative workshops, discussions and events and encourage people of all ages to engage with sculpture as learners, thinkers and makers.
“We are delighted to be making some significant changes to our building so that our audiences can continue to grow, access and enjoy our exhibitions, research and our collections.
“These alterations will bring a significant step-change to how, and where, our programmes are experienced, retaining our world-renowned research facilities while ensuring that young people – our potential great creative thinkers of the future – feel at home.
“We’re looking forward to reopening our doors next summer with revitalised spaces that better serve our visitors and the vibrant communities of Leeds and beyond.”
Laurence Sillars, Head of the Henry Moore Institute
Our ambition is to make the building more inviting to all audiences. Our refurbishment will provide:
- A more welcoming entrance area designed to be a meeting point, encouraging visitors to stay longer, take a seat and browse our enhanced shop.
- A refreshed area on the ground floor (our ‘alcove’) that allows us to continue to offer free, creative drop-in activities for all visitors.
- Inclusive, fully accessible toilets with baby changing facilities.
- An improved entrance to the Research Library on the first floor with new provision for displays drawn from our library special collections.
- Increased comfort in our basement seminar room for research events, with natural light, new seating and upgraded technology.
We will also be replacing the roof and installing solar panels to continue our commitment to sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint.
As a Grade II listed building there are limitations to what we can do to the exterior of building, despite a long-held desire to improve access. While longer-term ambitions remain in place, this redevelopment will focus on making our internal spaces warm, inviting and welcoming.
Following a tender process, Leeds-based architects Group Ginger, who specialise in creating social spaces in architecture, were appointed to work on the refurbishment and modernisation of our interior spaces.
“Group Ginger has focused on creating moments for social interaction, encouraging a hub for discourse within the Institute’s new welcome spaces. Block colour and natural materials are used to zone spaces, with a focus on robustness, tactility, and sustainability. This improves sight-lines and building legibility, while encouraging the visitor to explore the whole building.
“Central to our proposal is the new engagement workshop, a dedicated space for creative learners of all ages. By maximising the efficiency of existing offices, we were able to carve out space on the second floor by converting a former meeting room into a dedicated workshop, inviting visitors to enjoy a part of the building which was previously not publicly accessible. The new engagement workshop provides a blank canvas to allow the imagination to run wild. Prominently placed within the building, the space benefits from an abundance of daylight and natural ventilation to support a comfortable learning environment.
“We’re excited to see the scheme come to life as works begin on site.”
Samantha Mooney, Project Architect at Group Ginger
Activities during closure
During closure, we will run an off-site research season Brâncuși in Britain from February to June 2024 with online discussions and in-person conferences examining Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncuși’s (1876-1957) life and work from a contemporary viewpoint. Our engagement programme with school and community groups will continue off-site. A lively programme of digital content will be released throughout the renovation, giving insights into sculptors’ work, exploring our collections and showing glimpses of the refurbishment as it happens.
We plan to keep the Archive of Sculptors’ Papers and Sculpture Research Library open by appointment only during the refurbishment. At times, there will be access restrictions, so researchers who would like to use our resources should contact the Archivist and Librarian via our website to discuss their needs in advance.
We will reopen in summer 2024 with a solo exhibition by Australian sculptor Hany Armanious (born 1962, Egypt), whose work explores the magical properties of the casting process. Entry to the Institute will continue to be free of charge.
Contractors can express their interest to Michael Eyres Partnership at:
For further information, images or to arrange a visit please contact
Kara Chatten, Marketing and Communications Manager
Henry Moore Institute
Emily Dodgson, Head of Marketing and Communications
Henry Moore Foundation
Sophie Balfour-Lynn, Account Director
Olivia Forster, Account Executive
Henry Moore Institute, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 3AH
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00–17:00 until 26 November 2023, then closed for refurbishment until summer 2024
Notes to editors
Brâncuși in Britain Research Season
February – June 2024, various locations
The life and work of Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncuși (1876-1957) has received plenty of scholarly attention but this Research Season will encourage both emerging and established scholars to look at his legacy from fresh angles, and through a contemporary lens of enquiry. As well as using a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to re-examine his life and work, we will look at his exhibition history in Britain and abroad, the complicated reception of his work in Britain, wider cross-cultural exchanges between Romania and Britain and ways in which his work has ongoing resonance for contemporary artists.
The series will include an early career research symposium, aimed at giving recently qualified academics and artists a chance to reassess Brâncuși’s legacies. This will be followed by a film screening at Leeds’ iconic Hyde Park Picture House. We will bring together curators who have worked on major Brâncuși exhibitions and contemporary artists for whom Brâncuși has been an important influence. The season will culminate with a major academic conference at Henry Moore Studios and Gardens, Hertfordshire.
About Group Ginger
Group Ginger deliver memorable and enjoyable places that enhance the lives of those who experience them.
They work with progressive clients who want to create positive social impact. Their ingenious approach helps socially motivated clients who want to create positive impact by unlocking problems and delivering lasting transformational change.