The Hepworth Wakefield

Last weekend we visited The Hepworth Wakefield for the first time. The gallery is named after sculptor Barbara Hepworth who grew up in Wakefield and displays numerous pieces of her work. I am a long time fan of Yorkshire sculpture park where a number of sculptures by Barbara Hepworth are on display. We spent many a happy day at the park when I was growing up. Now that I live in Cheshire, we do not get as much chance to visit but we had planned a trip this last weekend. However on the day the weather forecast was not good so we decided to visit The Hepworth gallery instead.

The gallery sits on the edge of the river Calder and is designed by architect David Chipperfield. It is composed of 10 interlinked trapeziod galleries on the upper floor and the exterior of the building is covered in grey concrete. The building itself is not to everyone’s taste but we quiet liked it. The gallery is accessed from the car park (£4.50 for 5 hours) by a foot bridge over the river Calder. The sculptures start on the bridge with this fun one that kids are sure to love.


There are several other sculptures in the grounds including this one. This is a wrap covering a 19th century grade-II listed watermill creating a 3 dimensional drawing.

There is a great looking kids playground which we did not visit this year but I can imagine older children will love. See that large building in the background? that is a former mill that is currently being converted in to further gallery space and is due to open later this summer.


Once inside the gallery (admission is free) on the ground floor there are the usual facilities including a cafe and shop. There is a learning studio where numerous workshops take place (see below for further details) and an indoor picnic area. Lockers are available to use free of charge and of course there are toilets and baby changing facilities.

We had lunch in the cafe where we enjoyed a Yorkshire rarebit followed by a slice of cake each. The food was really nice (I was pleased to discover they use local ingredients where possible) and the selection of cakes was very extensive. The chocolate cake was a bit dry to be honest but the blueberry frangipane was delicious. We visited on a busy Saturday but the service was still excellent. In fact the food arrived so quickly that I had not finished feeding my baby. The waitress very kindly offered to take my food back to the kitchen to keep it warm until my baby finished feeding.

On the upper floor are the 10 gallery spaces. They are really well thought out and the large windows bathe the spaces in natural light as well as framing the views. As well as work by Barbara Hepwtorth there is a regularly changing selection of modern and contemporary art.

Although our baby was too young to appreciate it (she did seem interested in some large black and white pieces though), the gallery would make a great  day out for art-loving/creative families with older children. As we walked round the gallery it was lovely to see children sat sketching the sculptures or learning about paintings from the children’s gallery pack (available from reception for a £1 donation). There was also a free workshop on that day in the learning studio (for children aged 3-12) to make metal creatures inspired by some of the sculptures on display. 

The Hepworth won a Clore learning award at this year’s Arts fund for the museum of the year awards and it’s not hard to see why. You can find out more about their learning program here or see here for a list of upcoming workshops/exhibits & events. I particularly like the sound of printmaking for children (free), toddler Tuesdays (adults £4, children £3, including free parking if booked in advance) and 2-day photography course (£30).

Disclosure – I have not been paid to write this review. We visited the gallery, paid for our parking and food ourselves. I just thought that the gallery was a great place for families so I wanted to share it with you all. All photos were taken by me and are not to be used without my written permission. Please excuse the photo quality, I forgot my big camera so these are phone photos!

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