Hepworth Wakefield wins Museum of the Year

Director thanks local authority for its support
Profile image for Simon Stephens
Simon Stephens
The Hepworth Wakefield in Yorkshire won the £100,000 Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017, which was announced this week at the British Museum, London.

The gallery, which was designed by architect David Chipperfield, brings together work from Wakefield’s art collection, exhibitions by contemporary artists and works by Barbara Hepworth, the world-famous sculptor who was born in the city in 1903.

Simon Wallis, the director of the gallery, pointed to the importance of support from the arts council and Wakefield Council.

 “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,” Wallis said.

The chairman of the Hepworth Wakefield is David Liddiment, a television executive and Museums Association board member.

“The Hepworth Wakefield was a powerful force of energy from the moment it opened in 2011, but it has just kept growing in reach and impact ever since,” the director of the Art Fund, Stephen Deuchar, said. “David Chipperfield’s building has proved a perfect stage – both for the display of collections and as a stage for a breathtaking sequence of special exhibitions.”

The four others shortlisted for the Art Fund Museum of the Year were Lapworth Museum of Geology, Birmingham; National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art, Newmarket; and Sir John Soane’s Museum and Tate Modern, both in London.

For the first time this year, each of the other finalist museums receives a £10,000 prize.

The judges for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017 were: Deuchar as the chair; artist Richard Deacon; Hartwig Fischer, the director of the British Museum; Munira Mirza, an adviser on arts and philanthropy; and the radio DJ and television presenter Jo Whiley.

The Art Fund awards the Art Fund Museum of the Year annually to a museum that has shown exceptional imagination, innovation and achievement during the past 12 months. It is the biggest museum prize in the world and the largest arts award in Britain.

Hepworth Wakefield director Simon Wallis is speaking at a Directors In Conversation a this year’s Museums Association Conference & Exhibition in Manchester (16-18 November) alongside Helen Ghosh, the director general of the National Trust and Reyahn King, the chief executive of York Museums Trust. The chair is Jenny Stewart, an independent publicist and communications adviser, who used to work at the Design Museum, London.


Museums Association Conference & Exhibition 2017

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