The Hepworth Wakefield wins Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017

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It was announced at a dinner at the British Museum on Wednesday 5 July 2017, that The Hepworth Wakefield has been chosen as Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017. The 100,000 prize is the world’s largest and most prestigious prize for museums, rewarding the museum that has shown exceptional imagination, innovation and creativity in all areas of the business.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund said, ‘The Hepworth Wakefield has been a powerful force of energy from the moment it opened. The building has proved a perfect stage – both for its collections and a breathtaking sequence of special exhibitions. The Hepworth serves its local community and contributes to regional tourism too... It's the museum everyone would dream of having on their doorstep.’

On collecting the award Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won this wonderful accolade. It’s a great honour that our work throughout our fifth anniversary year has been rewarded by becoming Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017. Thank you to all the judges and the Art Fund, which has long supported our ambitious collecting policy in Wakefield.

Particular thanks to our major investors Arts Council and the originator of The Hepworth Wakefield - Wakefield Council - led by Cllr Peter Box. We've benefitted from a close working relationship with a local authority that thoroughly understands and supports the value and power of culture in transforming the quality of people's lives in the Wakefield district.

Something very special is happening in our part of Yorkshire as we've now got two Museums of the Year with our near neighbour Yorkshire Sculpture Park who won it in 2014.”

David Liddiment, Chair of the Trustees at The Hepworth Wakefield, said: “I’d like to congratulate and thank the superb team at the gallery for all their outstanding work. This award belongs to all of you who make The Hepworth what it is with your unflagging passion, commitment and imagination. You do so much to attract such large numbers to the gallery year on year and to bring the gallery, our programme and our collections alive.”

2016 was an exceptional year for the gallery, with 21% growth in visits on the previous year. Major exhibitions included The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture and retrospectives of both Martin Parr and Stanley Spencer and a newly commissioned installation by Anthea Hamilton. Plans to build on the success of 2016 include transforming the wider site, by creating a beautifully landscaped garden by leading garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith. It will be one of the largest free public gardens in the UK and will enhance the gallery’s riverside setting, enabling The Hepworth to further broaden the programme. An ambitious future collaboration with partners in the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle – Henry Moore Institute, Leeds Art Gallery and Yorkshire Sculpture Park – will be announced soon, as will an exciting new initiative to continue to grow the collection.