The Hepworth Wakefield has been named Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017, with top prize of £100,000
Art Fund Director and Chair of the Judges, Stephen Deuchar, said that the inspiring new art gallery had been “a powerful force of energy from the moment it opened in 2011, but it has just kept growing in reach and impact ever since.”
According to the Art Fund website, the prize is awarded annually to “one outstanding museum which, in the opinion of the judges, has shown exceptional imagination, innovation and achievement across the preceding 12 months.”
The runners up for this year’s prize were the Lapworth Museum of Geology, the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art, Sir John Soane’s Museum and Tate Modern, and, for the first time, even they will received an award of £10,000 as recognition for their achievements.
The awards ceremony was held in the Great Court of the British Museum on July 5th and was attended by 470 guests. In an emotional speech that night, Director at Hepworth Simon Wallis thanked the people of Wakefield, telling them “we can all be proud of the inventive change that keeps occurring there.” He also told of the “unflagging passion” from the Hepworth team and how the other finalists helped foster “community, creativity and curiosity.”
David Chipperfield, the gallery architect, was also commended by Wallis for his “beautiful and compelling” designs on the banks of the river Calder.
Deuchar also commented on Chipperfield’s architectural talent, saying “David Chipperfield’s building has proved a perfect stage – both for the display of collections and as a platform for a breathtaking sequence of special exhibitions, curated with determined originality by the talented curatorial team.”