The great and good of the museum and art world gathered at the National Gallery this evening to find out who would be crowned Museum of the Year 2014. The Art Fund announced that the winner is Wakefield's unique Yorkshire Sculpture Park
, one of the most celebrated sculpture parks in the world. The Prize was presented by the Oscar-winning film and theatre director, Sam Mendes.
The judges chose YSP out of six remarkable finalists; the other museums were Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft in East Sussex, Hayward Gallery in London, Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich and Tate Britain in London.
The judges were incredibly impressed by Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) during their visit, and found it to be a truly outstanding museum with a bold artistic vision, consistently delivered at the highest level. They remarked upon the mix of sensory experiences, created by the harmonious integration of learning, landscape and sculpture, and brought to life with works by artists including Julian Opie, Henry Moore and James Turrell.
The Yinka Shonibare exhibition, the sensitive restoration of a beautiful 18th-century chapel, and the installation of Roger Hiorns Seizure 2008/2013 were the crowning highlights of 2013 the culmination of a 40-year journey of steady, strong and visionary leadership by founder/chief executive Peter Murray and his excellent team, who have firmly positioned this museum as a world leader.
Stephen Deuchar, chair of the judges, said: A perfect fusion of art and landscape, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park has gone from modest beginnings to one of the finest outdoor museums one might ever imagine. In 2013 it really came of age with art projects such as Yinka Shonibares extraordinary exhibition; the fruits of the expansion and consolidation of the landscape on both sides of the lake; and with the conversion of the chapel to house (as its inaugural exhibition) a major new work by Ai Weiwei.
Announcing the winner, Sam Mendes said: I'm genuinely honoured to have been asked to be a part of announcing this award. The dedication, love and unbelievable creativity of the six candidates for the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year are clear for all to see, as is the creative health of the UK Museum community as a whole. Financial health is a different matter, however and in that respect this award is a crucially important boost to one deserving organisation.
This year's judges chaired by Art Fund director, Stephen Deuchar were Sally Bacon, director of the Clore Duffield Foundation; Michael Craig-Martin RA, artist; Wim Pijbes, director of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; and Anna Somers Cocks, chief executive of The Art Newspaper.