Over 500,000 visitors within first 12 months of opening
Far exceeded initial first year nationally benchmarked target of 150,000 visitors, with 100,000 visitors in first five weeks of opening
In the UK’s Top 50 most visited attractions (Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, 2011)
One of the UK’s Top 10 most visited art galleries (ALVA, 2011)
First birthday celebrations this weekend (19-20 May)
The Hepworth Wakefield has become one of Britain’s most successful art galleries since it opened on 21 May 2011 and is preparing for a bumper birthday celebration this weekend, 19-20 May.
The gallery has recently welcomed its 500,000th visitor (on 12 May, more than a week away from its first birthday) and been announced as one of only four finalists shortlisted to win the coveted £100,000 Art Fund Prize and become ‘museum of the year’.
Cllr Peter Box, Leader of Wakefield Council said: “The Hepworth Wakefield has been a huge hit since it opened. It’s great to see visitors coming for a day out or cultural weekend in Wakefield. We’ve had visitors from as far away as Canada, Japan and Australia. It’s great to see the gallery become such a success and along with Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Henry Moore Institute put Yorkshire on the map as a new world centre for sculpture.”
Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield said: “We are so delighted to have made it to the shortlist of this prestigious award and we would like to thank our wonderful audience who have supported the gallery and helped us to reach this exciting stage. It’s deeply gratifying to be recognised as one of the UK’s top galleries and museums, and for this to come just as we've achieved 500,000 visitors before our first birthday on 21 May. If you’ve not yet visited The Hepworth Wakefield, now’s the time to come and see this inspiring, free, world-class gallery.”
The Chair of Judges of the Art Fund Prize, Lord Smith of Finsbury, said: “This wonderful new gallery has completely transformed the physical and cultural landscape of Wakefield and the wider region. So much more than just a stunning architectural achievement, the displays of the museum’s permanent collections and the quality of its contemporary art programme are equally commendable. It’s clearly one of the success stories of the museum world in the past twelve months, but whether it can beat off stiff competition from the other three outstanding contenders remains to be seen.”
Far exceeding initial expectations, the gallery has outstripped the first year nationally benchmarked target of 150,000 visitors, welcoming 100,000 within the first five weeks of opening. This makes The Hepworth Wakefield the UK’s most successful purpose-built gallery and is now in the top three most visited art galleries outside of London.
The visitors who tipped the museum over the 500,000 mark were Andrew and Nicola Laverick, who visited the gallery on 12 May with their daughter Alice. The family, from Selby in North Yorkshire, received a special goody bag, plus a £50 gift voucher to spend in the gallery’s shop and café bar, and a complimentary family workshop.
Nicola Laverick said: "We’ve had a fantastic day. The Hepworth has been on our to-list for a while, and we’re so glad we made the trip. It’s really family friendly and becoming the 500,000th visitors was such a surprise. We’ll definitely be coming back soon and bringing our friends and family – it’s brilliant!”
The gallery has already provided a huge boost for the local economy. The 500,000 visitors to the gallery so far will have generated around £10m of income for the local economy, with money being spent in local shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs, other attractions and hotels.
Visitors to The Hepworth Wakefield can enjoy a range of attractions, including 10 light-filled galleries, learning studios, displays of modern and contemporary art, an auditorium; a shop; café bar with an outdoor terrace; gardens and a riverside children’s play area. Admission to the gallery is free.
Complementing the collection displays, which include works by Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, Eduardo Paolozzi and Frank Auerbach, The Hepworth Wakefield presents a programme of contemporary exhibitions. The gallery is currently presenting the work of four British artists – Ben Rivers, David Thorpe & Heather and Ivan Morison. Visitors can also enjoy sculpture in the gallery gardens and the outdoor commission The Black Cloud by Heather and Ivan Morison.
The gallery’s next exhibition will feature Turner Prize 2012 nominee Luke Fowler and seminal British artist Richard Long.
For further details of the gallery, forthcoming exhibitions and events please visit www.hepworthwakefield.org or call 01924 247360.