The YSP attracted a record number of visitors in the past year. Michael Zwingmann, Invasion, 1999 © Jonty Wilde

Yorkshire Sculpture Park wins Museum of the Year 2014

Geraldine Kendall, 10.07.2014
Wakefield museum awarded £100,000 Art Fund prize
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) in Wakefield was named Museum of the Year 2014 at a ceremony at the National Gallery in London last night.

The museum was announced as the winner of the £100,000 Art Fund prize by film and theatre director Sam Mendes.

The judging panel described YSP as a “truly outstanding museum with a bold artistic vision”. Established in the 1970s, the museum displays contemporary sculpture across 500 acres of open-air parkland, as well as in a newly-converted 18th century chapel and a modern exhibition space.

The panel was impressed by the YSP’s leadership in bringing world-renowned contemporary art and sculpture to a rural location.

It attracted a record number of visitors in 2013 with an exhibition programme featuring artists such as Yinka Shonibare, Ursula von Rydingsvard and Ai Weiwei. Last year the museum also built a Riba award-winning space to house Roger Hiorns’s famous blue crystal installation, Seizure 2008/2013.

This year the Art Fund prize has absorbed the Clore Award for Learning, which was previously a separate prize. The YSP was commended for educational programming such as its new Breathing Space art therapy project for vulnerable young people.

The park was praised by the judging panel for its “harmonious integration of learning, landscape and sculpture”.

Stephen Deuchar, the director of the Art Fund and chair of the judges, said: “A perfect fusion of art and landscape, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park has gone from modest beginnings to one of the finest outdoor museums one might ever imagine.

"In 2013 it really came of age – with art projects such as Yinka Shonibare’s extraordinary exhibition; the fruits of the expansion and consolidation of the landscape on both sides of the lake; and with the conversion of the chapel.”

The museum saw off competition from five other museums: Tate Britain and the Hayward Gallery in London, the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich and the Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft in East Sussex.

The YSP’s founding and executive director Peter Murray said: “We are so surprised and honoured to win this major award. It’s extremely important to have the validation of our peers.

“This award is dedicated to our incredible staff, the artists with whom we’re privileged to work so closely, and our truly wonderful visiting public.”