The sculptor Henry Moore and his family moved to a rented property in Perry Green in Hertfordshire in 1940 after their home in London had been bombed. They enjoyed the environment so much that what was expected to a temporary move became permanent and, with the sale of a sculpture to an American collector (astonishingly shipped across the Atlantic during the war) he was able to buy the freehold of his home. Over the years, they bought further land and buildings to create an art community with different studios for his painting and drawing, his maquettes and his sculpture, which remain along with his archives and several large sculptures to be explored across the parkland landscape and sheep fields.
The Henry Moore Foundation which cares for this legacy was founded in 1977 and has now expanded the buildings to house the research archive of Henry Moore and a new visitor centre and offices for the Foundation which, appropriately has a sculptural form when viewed from the estate landscape. In some ways the two buildings continue the extension and adaptation which Henry Moore himself undertook while he lived and worked at Perry Green, including moving an 16th aisled barn and reconstructing it here in 1981, which now houses examples of his large tapestries.
Today, Moore’s family home and his different studios remain as if he had just popped out for a moment and there are also changing exhibitions to encourage repeat visits, currently the exhibition ‘Out of the Block – Henry Moore Carvings’ focussed on his carving of sculpture in wood and stone, with early works on the upper floor and larger more recent works in the large volume space downstairs, along with a display of photographs from the archives.
Moore’s legacy is not just his life and work at Perry Green; the Foundation has a remit to support and promote public appreciation of the visual arts which does through its various programmes both here and abroad and at its sister location, the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds.