Museum of London wants to be home to Henry Moore sculpture

Draped Seated Woman by Henry Moore at Yorkshire Sculpture Park Draped Seated Woman has been at Yorkshire Sculpture Park since 1997

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A London museum has said it wants to become a permanent home for a sculpture that has been put up for sale by Tower Hamlets Council.

Last month, the local authority announced it would sell the Henry Moore bronze sculpture Draped Seated Woman after "unprecedented" budget cuts.

Who was Henry Moore?

  • Moore was born in 1898 in Castleford, Yorkshire
  • He trained as a teacher but left to join the army and fought in World War I
  • After the war he received an ex-serviceman's grant to study at Leeds School of Art
  • He is famous for sculpting people with hollow spaces in their bodies and for using flowing, abstract shapes

Source: Henry Moore Foundation

The plans have attracted criticism from people including film-maker Danny Boyle and the director of the Tate Gallery.

The sculpture, which could fetch £20m, was bought for £6,000 in 1960.

Moore, a well-known socialist, sold the sculpture at a fraction of its market value to the former London County Council on the understanding that it would be displayed in a public space and might enrich the lives of those living in a socially deprived area.

Nicknamed Old Flo, it was installed on the Stifford council estate in 1962 but was vandalised and moved to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 1997.

'Great works'

In October this year, Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman announced his decision to sell the sculpture.

He said: "It is with great regret that I take this decision but we are faced with a stark choice in these times of recession."

The Museum of London said it supported concerns "about selling great works of art".

It wants to display the sculpture at the Museum of London in the City or Museum of London Docklands, at West India Quay, which it said together attract more than 600,000 visitors a year.

Museum director Sharon Ament said: "The Museum of London's offer to put Draped Seated Woman on free, public display would enable everyone to enjoy and derive meaning from this significant artwork."

The museum said it had conducted a full risk assessment and given it to Tower Hamlets.

It was still awaiting a response from the authority, the spokesman added.

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