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Library display

Collections in Conversation: Westminster Abbey's Monuments in the Henry Moore Institute Library

Sculpture Research Library

Henry Moore Institute, Leeds

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Examining the monumental sculpture of Westminster Abbey.

With the coronation of King Charles III in 2023, Westminster Abbey reconfirmed its continued cultural and political significance at the ceremonial heart of Britain. It remains one of the top 20 UK tourist attractions, receiving more than 1.5 million annual visitors and draws significant mainstream and social media attention. However, little research has been conducted on the sculptural fabric which informs these official and ordinary engagements at the Abbey.

This display highlights selected monuments from Westminster Abbey’s sculptural canon using items in the Henry Moore Institute library. Through these paper traces, a collective narrative across the monumental pantheon emerges, revealing sculptural intersections that transcend periods, locations, materials, and sculptors.

The sculptural conversations identified here yield insights into themes of artistry and craftsmanship, race and empire, faith and ecclesiology, gender and sexuality, museums and conservation – all of which coincide to raise questions about what the complex and multifaceted sculptural displays of British identities at Westminster Abbey mean in an increasingly contentious twenty-first-century context.

This display ties in with Monuments in Conversation: Westminster Abbey in the Eighteenth Century, a conference hosted in collaboration with the University of York Department of History of Art, held at the Henry Moore Institute on 17 July 2024.

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