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Happy Birthday The Hepworth Wakefield!

  • Date: 21 May 2012
  • Area: North
man in gallery

Simon Wallis, Director, The Hepworth Wakefield, celebrates the gallery's first birthday. Credit: Courtesy of The Hepworth Wakefield

The Hepworth Wakefield has marked its first birthday in style with its 500,000th visitor. The gallery which turns one today, celebrated with a series of free, family friendly activities over the weekend.

It's been a remarkable year for the gallery - with 100,000 visitors in first five weeks of opening, far exceeding the nationally benchmarked annual target of 150,000. A string of awards and nominations has included the British Design Awards for Best Architectural Achievement, the Conde Nast Design and Innovation Award for Culture and most recently, the coveted Art Fund Prize - beating off fierce competition to make it to the shortlist of just four.

The gallery has cemented its place in the community too, generating an estimated £10 million for the local economy - boosting cultural tourism for the area alongside other attractions such as Yorkshire Sculpture Park. What's more admission is free - meaning that more people can enjoy the great exhibitions on offer.

The Hepworth Wakefield now sits in the top three most visited galleries outside of London, and can stake claim to being the UK's most successful purpose-built gallery - all this after just one year!

Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield said: 'We are so delighted to have made it to the shortlist of the prestigious Art Fund Prize 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.'

Cluny Macpherson, Regional Director, Arts Council England said: 'The Hepworth isn't just a regional success story - it's a national one. Even a global one. It has proved that despite a tough economic climate, the thing that people value; the thing that keeps imaginations both young and old keen; the thing that helps rejuvenate our cities and towns; the thing that we have come to rely without even knowing it - is art.

'The Hepworth is more than a museum or gallery space - it's a statement about how arts and culture are valued in this country, and how the arts can give so much back to the communities that embrace them.'

The Hepworth Wakefield was supported by a Capital award from Arts Council England of £5 million and it recently joined the new National Portfolio of organisations. The gallery's next exhibition will feature Turner Prize 2012 nominee Luke Fowler and seminal British artist Richard Long as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad celebrations in region.