Henry Moore sculpture worth millions to stay at Stevenage’s Barclay Academy

The Henry Moore sculpture at The Barclay Academy in Stevenage. Picture: Danny Loo

The Henry Moore sculpture at The Barclay Academy in Stevenage. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

Ownership of a multi-million pound piece of public art at Stevenage’s newly-named Barclay Academy will be retained by Herts County Council, even though the school now belongs to a private sponsor.

Earlier this month Barclay became an academy, with ownership of the site, buildings and the contents now belonging to Future Academies Trust.

But a legal agreement has been drawn up to ensure ownership of Henry Moore’s The Family Group sculpture – insured for more than £20 million – stays with the county council. And there are no plans for the sculpture to be moved from its current home in the school’s foyer.

The legal agreement comes just months after it emerged that some of the county’s new academies had claimed ownership of other works from the county council’s art collection as their own.

Barclay’s headteacher, Mark Allchorn, said: “The legal documentation I have seen is that it is an asset of Herts County Council. It did not transfer across to our new owners.”

The Family Group was made specifically for installation at Barclay in the late 1940s. It reportedly cost about £760 at the time, but is now said to have an insurance value of in excess of £20 million.

Mr Allchorn says the sculpture is “massively important” to the school as a strong symbol of the school values of inclusivity, community and family.

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He said: “It means such a great deal to the whole school community.”

The sculpture is by far the most valuable piece in Herts County Council’s art collection, which is predominantly made up of artworks that were purchased so they could be loaned to schools from 1949 onwards.

A spokesman for the local authority said: “Ownership of the Henry Moore statue will be retained by Hertfordshire County Council.”

Future Academies said: “The Henry Moore sculpture belongs to the local authority and will remain at the school under the same terms.”

Four other casts of The Family Group were made. They are reported to have been acquired by London’s Tate Modern, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and by Nelson Rockefeller.

Mr Allchorn said: “It is a community piece of artwork and as headteacher I will continue to welcome the community to view it at appropriate times.”

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