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The Henry Moore Institute in Leeds is closed for refurbishment until Summer 2024.

Three decades of being in the moment

Henry Moore Institute celebrates thirty years of being open to you.

  • This April the Henry Moore Institute is celebrating 30 years since it opened its doors on 21 April 1993.
  • The celebrations include a new display looking at the making of the building, reflecting on our achievements in that time, as well as a creative competition inviting the public to reimagine the building.


The Henry Moore Institute, part of Henry Moore Foundation opened in Leeds on 21 April 1993 as a centre for the study of sculpture with an art gallery and research library open to all. While the Institute rarely displays any work by its founder, its existence is inspired by Henry Moore’s desire to give people in Leeds access to sculpture.

“I remember that as a young sculptor, there was nothing; there wasn’t a single piece of sculpture in my home town.”

Henry Moore interviewed in 1981

View of the Henry Moore Institute from Cookridge Street in 2023/1938. Vintage photo by kind permission of Leeds Libraries, Photo: Min Young Lim.
View of the Henry Moore Institute in 2023/at the opening ceremony in 1993. Photo: Min Young Lim.

The long-established partnership of Leeds City Council and the Henry Moore Foundation began with the development of the Sculpture Study Centre in Leeds Art Gallery in 1982 and led to the development of the Henry Moore Institute in 1993. Award winning architects Jeremy Dixon and Edward Jones BDP redesigned three existing wool merchant’s offices on Cookridge Street in the centre of Leeds, introducing an iconic black granite façade on the front, sensitive, minimalist detailing throughout and creating spaces specifically designed for the display of sculpture.

“We wanted an architect who would respond to the site and respect the almost domestic scale of the existing buildings and produce an architectural statement that was at once strong and restrained.”

Robert Hopper, Director of the Henry Moore Foundation, 1993

The Grade II listed building won both the Leeds Design for Architecture and the RIBA Architecture Award (Yorkshire Region) in 1993.

The Henry Moore Institute is more than a gallery… It’s one of the major sculpture research places in Britain…The whole point was to be connected, by bridge, to the main art gallery next door… it becomes an extension of the main city art gallery.

Jeremy Dixon interviewed by Niamh Dillon, 2009 – 2014,
National Life Stories Architects’ Lives, C467/91 © British Library


Since the Institute opened its doors we have:

  • Displayed the work of over 731 artists from around the world.
  • Presented 224 exhibitions, free to the public.
  • Acquired 30,000 books, publications, journals, audio-visual resources and ephemera in the Sculpture Research Library.
  • Hosted 140 Visiting Research Fellows in the Library and Archive of Sculptors’ Papers.
  • Made 700 acquisitions with Leeds City Council for Leeds’ sculpture collection along with a significant number of works on paper.
  • Welcomed over 1 million visitors.
  • Gave numerous artists their first solo exhibition.
A group of visitors walk through Lungiswa Gqunta’s sculpture 'Ntabamanzi', made from barbed wire and blue wool. The sculpture is designed to look like a wave breaking against the wall of the gallery.
Lungiswa Gqunta, 'Ntabamanzi' 2022. Photo: Min Young Lim.
Sculptural Kaleidoscopes workshop, 2022.

The Institute works hard to encourage as wide an audience as possible to experience, study and enjoy sculpture from around the world. Part of the Henry Moore Foundation, a charity that creates high quality art experiences for people of all ages, the Institute is committed to providing access to sculpture for free.

We present an annual programme of historical, modern and contemporary sculpture exhibitions in our galleries, which range from solo presentations by international artists pushing the boundaries of the art form, to thematic and group exhibitions that highlight different approaches to making, thinking and engaging with the world.

As one of the world’s leading dedicated sculpture libraries, our Sculpture Research Library offers inspiration in over 30,000 art books, journals and ephemera in beautiful reading rooms. The library also houses Leeds City Council’s Archive of Sculptors’ Papers, which captures the working lives of hundreds of sculptors in rich and fascinating collections of photographs, letters, drawings and sketchbooks available for anyone to see by appointment.

A lively engagement programme works to ensure that there’s plenty for families to do when they visit, as well as welcoming schools and running special projects for community groups.

Sculpture research remains at the heart of the Institute’s work, offering so much for students, academics and researchers. Our seasons of research events, discussions and conferences dig deep into specific topics. Plus, our annual programme of Visiting Research Fellowships gives artists and art historians the opportunity to spend a month researching in the library and archive.

The Institute is also one of the only places in the centre of Leeds where you can purchase art journals and sculpture publications.

“We are delighted to be taking some time to celebrate everything we have achieved as a specialist sculpture centre over the last thirty years. From the artists we have supported at the very beginnings of their careers, our innovative approach to presenting and interpreting contemporary art, to the critical research we’ve enabled. Plus crucially all the people who have been through our doors and have discovered something new because of us. It’s a real privilege to build on Henry Moore’s legacy and continue to contribute to the city’s cultural offer by giving the people of Leeds free access to world-class sculpture.” 

Laurence Sillars, Head of the Henry Moore Institute


A display looking at the making of the building A Site for Sculpture: Building the Institute featuring photographs, publications and ephemera will be open to the public in the Sculpture Research Library until 7 July 2023.

A creative competition invites anyone to imaginatively makeover the building as part of the Institute’s engagement programme, which encourage people of all ages to engage with sculpture as learners, thinkers and makers. Cards are available in the Institute for people to draw, paint, stick or print to show how they would redesign the black granite façade of the building. There are prizes in different age groups, 11 years and under / 12–17 years / 18+. The competition is open until 18 June 2023 and three winners from each age category will win Fred Aldous vouchers to spend on art materials.

The iconic façade is decorated to mark the occasion with a new design commission stating the words ‘Three decades of being in the moment. Open to you since 1993’.

Artists, art historians, cultural institutions and visitors are invited to share their memories through the website or on social media on Friday 21 April 2023, 30 years exactly since the Institute opened its doors.

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, Senior Account Director


Twitter: @HMILeeds
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YouTube: henrymoore


Notes to editors

About the Henry Moore Institute

The Henry Moore Institute can be found on The Headrow, next to Leeds Art Gallery, in Leeds city centre’s cultural hub, just a five-minute walk from Leeds Station.

Henry Moore Institute welcomes everyone to visit their Galleries, Research Library and Archive of Sculptors’ Papers to experience, study and enjoy sculpture from around the world. The Institute can be found in the centre of Leeds, the city where Henry Moore (1898-1986) began his training as a sculptor. Their changing programme of historical, modern and contemporary exhibitions and events encourage thinking about what sculpture is, how it is made and the artists who make it.

As part of the Henry Moore Foundation, they are a hub for sculpture, connecting a global network of artists and scholars, continuing research into the art form and ensuring that sculpture is accessible and celebrated by a wide audience.

The long-established partnership of Leeds City Council and the Henry Moore Foundation began with the development of the Sculpture Study Centre in Leeds Art Gallery in 1982 and led to the development of the Henry Moore Institute in 1993. It now represents an unparalleled collaboration in the collection, study and presentation of sculpture. The City Council’s sculpture collection lies at the heart of our work together, and is underpinned by the curatorial and research expertise of the Henry Moore Institute.

Free entry
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00–17:00

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