An Ambitious $56 Million Barbara Hepworth Museum Grows in Yorkshire

An Ambitious $56 Million Barbara Hepworth Museum Grows in Yorkshire

Amid funding cuts and student occupations, it's not all bad news for the arts in the United Kingdom: An ambitious new £35 million ($56 million) museum dedicated to British abstract sculpture pioneer Barbara Hepworth is on track for a May 21 opening date. Called the Hepworth Wakefield, it is being built in Yorkshire, the late artist's hometown.

According to the BBC, the Hepworth Wakefield is the "largest purpose-built art gallery" to open in the U.K. since the Tate St. Ives debuted in Cornwall in 1993. With 10 galleries, the heart of the collection will be some 44 plaster working models donated by the late artist's family, shown alongside works by her contemporaries including Ben Nicholson, Graham Sutherland, Paul Nash, and Patrick Heron.


A selection of loans of work by prominent modernists such as Piet Mondrian, Constantin Brancusi, and Alberto Giacometti are promised to the Hepworth Wakefield by the Tate, the Arts Council, and the British Council. The galleries will also host visiting shows, such as a planned showcase of work by London-based Irish sculptor Eva Rothschild.

The new Yorkshire attraction is being designed by London-based David Chipperfield Architects, which has proposed a bunker-like structure composed of a series of interlocking trapezoidal blocks, to harmonize with the surrounding industrial architecture. The architect's Web site states that the galleries are sized according to the works in the Hepworth Wakefield's collection, with smaller galleries for earlier works and larger ones intended to highlight more contemporary exhibitions. The design also includes a space for performances and education area.