Wakefield's art gallery has its toes in the gushing waters of the river Calder and was the winner of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017.
David Chipperfield's £35 million building - ten grey trapezoidal boxes, each housing a room - has a stern beauty in perfect harmony with the surroundings. The gallery was nominated for the Art Fund Prize 2013.
Inside you'll find an extensive but focused permanent collection of 20th-century art bought by the forward-thinking curators of Wakefield Art Gallery, which was set up in 1923, and is now supplemented with some exciting loans. At the heart of this core collection sit a large number of pieces by Barbara Hepworth herself, who grew up in the city, the daughter of an engineer.
Hepworth's achievement is shown alongside that of her contemporaries at home and abroad. Selected sculptures by Henry Moore, who also grew up in Wakefield, include an elegant Reclining Figure in elm from 1936. One room explores Hepworth's art in relation to European Modernism, with works by Brancusi, Gaudier-Brzeska, Naum Gabo and Mondrian. Another looks at Hepworth's time in St Ives, where she worked from 1939 until her death in 1975, and where she made her monumental bronzes.
The Calder, a contemporary art space opposite the main gallery, opened in August 2014.
With Yorkshire Sculpture Park only seven miles away and the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds just up the road, Hepworth Wakefield is at the centre of a hub for modern sculpture. An energetic itinerary could take in all these places in one visit, spread over a day or two.
It was the winner of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017.
The Hepworth Wakefield houses part of the city's existing collection of major British and European artists. Six gallery spaces are dedicated to Wakefield's collection of Modern British art. Two of the ten rooms illuminate Hepworth's working methods. In the first, visitors can pull out drawers to discover the drawings in which she mapped out her ideas, read what she had to say about her creative process, and see her tools and materials neatly laid out beside her bench and in vitrines.
The second is an airy atrium full of the prototypes in plaster, metal and wood – many of them looking as polished as the final versions – given by Hepworth's family through the Art Fund. It culminates in a giant model of the winged figure that adorns the façade of John Lewis in Oxford Street.