A family visit to the Henry Moore Studios and Gardens in Hertfordshire

A family visit to the Henry Moore Studios and Gardens in Hertfordshire

We recently spent a wonderful Sunday with our boys (aged seven and four) exploring the Henry Moore Studios and Gardens in Hertfordshire. I love visiting galleries and museums and I’m keen to teach my children about art. However, sometimes small children and galleries do not mix, so I’m always on the look out for ways to enjoy art in a child-friendly environment. The Henry Moore sculpture gardens are perfect for children: there’s plenty of space to play, you can touch the open-air art works and visitors can peek into Henry Moore’s former studios to see the tools and materials he used.

Henry Moore studios

The son of a miner, Henry Moore grew up in Yorkshire and showed a keen interest in art and sculpture from a young age. After serving in the First World War, Moore studied at the Leeds College of Art and later at the Royal College of Art in London. Over his lifetime, Moore produced an extensive body of public art which can now be found all over the world from Norway to New Zealand. Moore was an extremely successful artist and sank much of his wealth into the Henry Moore Foundation, a charity which continues to promote art today.

Henry Moore’s sculptures are frequently semi-abstract, often depicting the female form reclining. His artwork is a brilliant way of introducing children to the power of art and what art can express. The sculptures are very child-friendly: big, textured, often recognisable forms. Many of the sculptures feature a hole which adds a playful element for a young viewer. Some of Moore’s most famous sculptures are cast in bronze but he frequently used stone and wood.

Henry Moore studios

The Henry Moore Studios and Gardens in Hertfordshire are extensive: set over some 60 acres including orchards and farmland. There are two converted barns in the grounds for indoor exhibitions. The Tithe Barn is hung with tapestries, based on Moore’s drawings, including scenes of figures sheltering in the London Underground during the Second World War air raids. The Sheep Field Barn hosts temporary exhibitions, we enjoyed the current exhibition exploring Henry Moore’s carved artworks; unlike the bronzes outside, these sculptures cannot be touched.

Visitors can take a tour of Henry Moore’s former home, Hoglands House, where he lived from 1940 until his death in 1986. We spent most of our visit outside exploring the art in the gardens and fields. The sculptures are spread out and children are given an I-spy sheet to tick off artworks and small details which they discover as they walk around the grounds.

I really enjoyed listening to what the children thought of the sculptures and hearing their exclamations when they touched the bronze artworks which had been heated by the summer sun. They truly engaged with the art and the setting and were full of questions and ideas. It is a lot easier to chat to young children about art when you’re walking through a big field rather than a silent gallery. We visited on a particularly beautiful day when the bright blue sky contrasted dramatically with the golden colours of the sculptures and the green of the landscape. It felt like a very peaceful outing despite our energetic companions.

There’s a Halloween themed half term workshop at the Henry Moore Studios and Gardens on Saturday 27th October 2018.

Visiting the Henry Moore Studios and Gardens in Hertfordshire
Opening hours
: Wednesday to Sunday 11am-5pm, open from Good Friday in spring until around the end of October in autumn, closed in winter.
Cost: £14 per adult and £7 for under 18s, family tickets are £35. Alternatively, you can buy Family Membership for £70 which is valid for a year.
Transport: the nearest train station is Bishops Stortford (15 minutes by taxi), which is about 40 minutes from London Liverpool Street.
Eating: there’s a good cafe and a picnic area.

The artwork I have photographed is reproduced by permission of the Henry Moore Foundation.

You can also visit the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds. Yorkshire also has its own sculpture park with a very broad mix of sculpture and installations.

Looking for other ways to engage your children with art? Read our review of a child-friendly Vivaldi’s Four Seasons brought to life by James Mayhew in a brilliant mix of art and music. He holds regular concerts in Hertfordshire and around the country. I love taking my children to these concerts.

Have you visited the Henry Moore Studios and Gardens in Hertfordshire? Let me know in the comments below.

visiting henry moore studios and gardens with kids

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39 Comments

  1. 20th September 2018 / 8:56 am

    What a great day out for the kids too. I’ve never heard of this place but the sculptures look amazing. Great pic of your little one through the hole and the I-Spy sheet is a nice touch too. Love how educational reading blogs can be. #FarawayFiled

    • smudgedpostcard
      Author
      20th September 2018 / 9:18 am

      It’s a brilliant place. I normally find it a bit stressful in a gallery with my four year old, being outside is so much easier!

  2. 20th September 2018 / 9:24 am

    Henry Moore’s art is definitely interesting! I had never heard of him before or seen his artwork, but I can imagine the kids found these ones fun to admire! #FarawayFiles

    • smudgedpostcard
      Author
      20th September 2018 / 9:40 am

      It is such a brilliant place to take kids: my younger son is really energetic and can’t cope with hushed galleries so having the space to run around and look at art is perfect!

  3. 20th September 2018 / 10:28 am

    This looks wonderful and somewhere I would love to visit. I confess to not even being aware it existed. It must have been beautiful in the warm sunshine, although I’m also imagining it would be be lovely on a bright frosty morning too. #Farawayfiles

    • smudgedpostcard
      Author
      20th September 2018 / 11:30 am

      I think a lot of people are unaware of it but it’s a very easy day trip from London and makes for a really wonderful day out with or without children.

  4. 20th September 2018 / 12:10 pm

    Great idea to find somewhere outdoors to start engaging the children in art. Like you I’ve got two energetic boys (5 and 7) who might struggle in a traditional gallery. This looks perfect. #FarawayFiles

    • smudgedpostcard
      Author
      20th September 2018 / 12:19 pm

      Well, I recall you were possibly interested in camping north of London. There’s a campsite called Westmill just outside Ware which is only 20 minutes from the Henry Moore Studios!

      • 20th September 2018 / 8:47 pm

        Ooh good to know. We wimped out for this weekend choosing to host at home instead but will be booking for next year. I’ll make a note – thanks!!

  5. Clare Thomson
    20th September 2018 / 2:39 pm

    This looks fabulous. Just the sort of place to get kids excited about art and actively engaged in it. I love Henry Moore’s works and would love to see them displayed in the open like this. Definitely one to save for a free weekend. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    • smudgedpostcard
      Author
      20th September 2018 / 2:54 pm

      It’s brilliant, we spent a really long time there.

  6. bavariansojourn
    21st September 2018 / 8:16 am

    Henry Moore has to be one of my favourite artists/sculptors, but yet I have never been. Wish I had made the effort when we lived in Cambridge now, it wasn’t all that far away! Thanks for joining in with #culturedkids

    • smudgedpostcard
      Author
      21st September 2018 / 9:52 am

      We only live about 30 minutes away, I hadn’t realised it was so close. Now I’ve been once I’ll be returning regularly!

  7. 21st September 2018 / 9:02 am

    We visited here when the teens were about 7 and they loved it. Beautiful,joyful place, thank you for linking up with #CulturedKids

    • smudgedpostcard
      Author
      21st September 2018 / 9:52 am

      It is indeed joyful. So glad to have found such a child-friendly art experience!

  8. 21st September 2018 / 11:16 am

    I love Henry Moore but I’d never heard of this park. I’d love to take my daughter here. It looks amazing #farawayfiles

    • smudgedpostcard
      Author
      21st September 2018 / 12:53 pm

      Well, it’s an easy day trip from London if you’re based there.

  9. 21st September 2018 / 11:17 am

    I’d never heard of this place. It sounds amazing. I’d love to take my daughter here #farawayfiles

  10. Trish @ Mum's Gone To
    21st September 2018 / 1:07 pm

    I love Henry Moore sculptures but have never been to his studio and gardens in Hertfordshire which is crazy as it’s not that far away from me.
    #culturedkids

    • smudgedpostcard
      Author
      21st September 2018 / 1:40 pm

      Well, I was the same, I’m so glad I’ve finally made it there and I know we’ll be returning frequently. It’s a good stop off for you on route to London…

  11. 27th September 2018 / 9:37 am

    I´m sure my daughter would like it as well! I so agree with you – teaching children about art, traveling/showing world to them is so impotant. And it is also true that often small children and galleries do not mix, so we always try to look for the places that would be interesting for both: us and kids! Would love to visit The Henry Moore sculpture gardens one day!

    • smudgedpostcard
      Author
      27th September 2018 / 11:19 am

      I must admit that museums and galleries are a million times better for kids than they were when I was a child but when you try to take 2 children around and there’s only one of you it’s really tricky!

  12. 28th September 2018 / 1:25 pm

    This is absolutely on my list. Love Henry Moore, and what a stunning setting. #CULTUREDKIDS

    • smudgedpostcard
      Author
      28th September 2018 / 6:15 pm

      It’s brilliant. We’re returning in a couple of weeks for the Halloween activity!

  13. 28th September 2018 / 6:46 pm

    What a great way to introduce kids to sculpture – I love that you could feel how the sun had warmed the bronzes. Outdoor art is perfect to combine culture with kids. Definitely going to add this to the must visit list #culturedkids

    • smudgedpostcard
      Author
      29th September 2018 / 1:40 pm

      So glad I’m inspiring others to visit!

  14. 30th September 2018 / 5:55 pm

    Such an easy way to introduce children to art when they can run around outside without risk of breaking something! I haven’t been here and would love to. Thanks for the report #culturedkids

    • smudgedpostcard
      Author
      30th September 2018 / 9:10 pm

      Yes, it’s much more enjoyable for everyone when the kids can run free!

  15. 1st October 2018 / 10:57 am

    This looks like a great place to get children interested in art. Being able to roam around freely rather than being stuck in a gallery is great, and the fact that they can actually touch the sculptures too will add interest and spark their creative juices! #MondayEscapes

  16. Mama Travels Earth
    1st October 2018 / 8:47 pm

    This sounds like a fantastic day out and a great and relaxed way of getting kids inspired by art. Also love the idea of the Halloween-themed workshop! #MondayEscapes

  17. 3rd October 2018 / 10:27 am

    I too love the idea of somewhere kids can appreciate art but have more freedom and fun than they might have indoors at a traditional gallery. There was/is a Henry Moore sculpture outside at Kenwood House in London and we used to walk the dog there regularly – I still remember picnicking and playing in front of it as a child!
    Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes

    • smudgedpostcard
      Author
      3rd October 2018 / 10:31 am

      That’s great that it has stuck in your memory!

  18. 3rd October 2018 / 3:17 pm

    Looks like a neat place to visit. A perfect day for it. #andventurecalling

  19. 12th October 2018 / 10:11 pm

    Such a great way to introduce children to art. You looked like you had the weather to make for a lovely day too. Having three lively children I love the idea of exploring outside rather than trying to keep them quiet in a gallery! Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes

    • smudgedpostcard
      Author
      13th October 2018 / 10:25 am

      It’s such a brilliant place, I know we’ll be returning regularly!

  20. 15th October 2018 / 12:07 am

    I like Henry Moore’s sculptures, but I’ve only ever experienced them in bronze. Would be lovely to see some of his works in wood, looks beautiful x
    #AdventureCalling

    • smudgedpostcard
      Author
      15th October 2018 / 7:34 am

      They’re brilliant, you must visit

  21. 16th October 2018 / 6:44 pm

    I love these open air art installations. It’s particularly great that some, like this on e, are family friendly and encourage youngsters to engage with the pieces. Thanks for joining us on #adventurecalling.

  22. 17th October 2018 / 7:06 pm

    The gardens look amazing, the sculptures are so amazing. i bet it’s great to get up close to them. It’s great that it’s so family friendly, great place to spark a child’s imagination. Thanks so much for sharing with us #AdventureCalling

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