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“Not a stuffy, old art gallery” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of The Hepworth Wakefield

The Hepworth Wakefield
Ranked #5 of 42 things to do in Wakefield
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: The Hepworth Wakefield is Yorkshire's award-winning gallery designed by David Chipperfield Architects which opened to the public in May 2011. The UK's largest purpose-built gallery in over 50 years, we celebrate the achievements of one of Britain's most significant sculptors, Barbara Hepworth, in the city in which she was born and raised. As well as the Hepworth Family Gift, a unique collection of Hepworth's working models gifted to Wakefield through the Art Fund, the gallery also holds the collection of the former Wakefield Art Gallery. Alongside collection displays, we also present a regularly changing programme of contemporary exhibitions by world-renowned artists as well as offering award-winning family and learning activities for all ages, a cafe bar and shop - a perfect day out for all the family. Free admission all year round.
Mirfield, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
10 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Not a stuffy, old art gallery”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 11, 2013

We were headed somewhere else on Saturday as we passed the Hepworth Gallery. As it was somewhere that we had thought to visit for a while, we decided to drop in 'just for an hour'. Please understand that we approached this visit as a family group rather than as a group of high-brow art enthusiasts.

The car park is a Pay and Display that takes coins or cards. It had a single price of £4.50 for the full day. You walk out of the car park, cross the road and over the footbridge that crosses the waterway. As you start to approach the gallery, at first glance it looks like a concrete monstrosity. From the outside, this is most certainly the case but, as we were to find out later, looks can be deceiving. The art works start even before you get into the gallery with a homunculus made from recycled rubbish hanging from a waterside crane and further, more traditional, sculptures in the grounds. Our girls spent a few minutes trying to identify the recycled items that had been used. To the back of the gallery is a children's play area with zip slide, climbing frames, swings, roundabouts, etc.

On entering the gallery, we were greeted by a very friendly member of staff who gave us a 'What's On' guide and pointed out the various facilities. Everything, as you would expect from such a modern building, is very clean, sharp and well presented.

There are guided tours and audio description headphones available but we declined both of these as we did not intend to stay for long. As we started our 'quick' tour of the gallery we found several art 'pods' set up around the gallery. These were staffed by volunteer artists and had a range of activities available for the children to get involved in. The first that we encountered was in an exhibition looking at electric light and sound in artwork. They had laid out a few 'snap together' circuit boards together with some simple designs that enabled the children to build their own circuits that acted in different ways and gave them different sound, light and motion responses. We spent a few minutes putting them together to see what they would do.

From there, we moved into another gallery with another art pod. This time, the children were given clipboards with paper and pencil and we were given an activity sheet. We were directed into another gallery where the children were shown two artworks and we could ask them several questions about them. This didn't particularly grab their attention but then they were invited to sit and sketch a couple of the sculptures.

And this is where the gallery suddenly took on a whole new dimension.

Suddenly, we weren't just on a prescribed tour of a stuffy, old building looking at a collection of artworks from a diverse range of artists. Now we were watching as our children sat cross-legged on the floor, sketch pads on their knees, and were drawn into the artworks themselves by being actively encouraged to create their own art. This is hardly something that I would expect to see at the Modern Tate, for example! They sat and sketched for a while then moved on to another sculpture and sketched some more. At one point, one of them went to a window, sat facing outwards and started sketching again.

As I went to watch, the design of the building suddenly grabbed me.

From the outside, the building is ugly. Angular, grey concrete boxes. From the inside, the massive windows throw natural light into all of the galleries and allow visitors to have an unimpeded view of the surrounding environment and external art works. My daughter had seen a stone sculpture in the gardens and was sat inside the window recess quietly sketching it.

We took our sketches back to the lady at the art pod and found that she had set up some model building activities with straws, pipe cleaners, tape, etc. As our children built their free-form models, she directed us to a nearby light and asked them to hold their models under it and look at the shadows that they cast. The girls were entranced and wanted to stay for longer to do more.

Our 'quick' visit had taken four hours and we hadn't seen half of what was on display.

The curators of the Hepworth Gallery have produced an attraction that really does try to include a full range of visitors and they have done so with sparkling success. Without a doubt we shall be returning to the site to see - and do - so much more.

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
Thank MikeTheRelic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Bradford
Level Contributor
76 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
“Excellent galleries and free guided tour but expensive cafe”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 11, 2013

I am not a huge fan of modern art but my wife persuaded me to go here and I was glad that I did. We took the free guided tour which was given by an extremely enthusiastic and interesting young man. The Tissot's were fabulous as were some of the sculptures but I would give the 'lots of LEDs in a row with weird music playing' gallery a miss. Staff were knowledgeable and helpful. The only negative I would say is that the café is expensive. We only had coffees and cakes but both were 'average' quality and overpriced.

Also - don't be put off by the cold concrete building from the outside - it really is a lovely place inside.

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
Thank BradfordLadBradford
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leeds, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
191 reviews
66 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 107 helpful votes
“I wouldn't have most of the paintings 'on my walls'”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 7, 2013

If it wasn't for the Tissot paintings the visit would have been a complete waste of time. Not my type or art but I was prepared to go and have a look.
Apparently the collections do change; guess I visited at the wrong time!
Nice building, smooth minimalist style, staff attentive and helpful.
On the FreeBus route but the driver forgot to tell us the stop, we noticed the building going passed so we got off at the next stop.
One of the best viewings was from a large window overlooking the canal.

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
Thank Mike P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kirkby-in-Ashfield, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
504 reviews
274 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 198 helpful votes
“Diffferent and interesting”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 4, 2013

A visit to the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield with a very good friend who has a different interest in art to my own. We were both impressed with the building and its surroundings. There are friendly and well presented staff ready to help with any queries. One set of exhibits could have been the film set of a science fiction scene. Very interesting information on Barbara Hepworth and her sculptures and designs. The ability with all galleries to have different exhibitions ensures return visits, we will return. Facilties for refreshments are very good and comfortable, all with a view.

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
Thank Chandra H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wakefield, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
16 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“I have taken more interesting things to the tip.”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 3, 2013

The first thing that hits you when you see the building is that it looks like something from an eastern block country..grey and cold in no way in sympathy with its surroundings.
As you walk through the galleries from one exhibit to another you wonder what some of the artists were thinking as they scraped and chiseled their way through the chosen materials.
Let me clarify..It was as if they were on some kind of medication when they started their projects and as it wore off they looked at it and abandoned it.
You will leave thinking that you have taken more interesting things to the tip.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
8 Thank stevepreston
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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