THE opening of The Hepworth Wakefield was hailed a huge success after 15,200 people visited the gallery this weekend.
The 1,600 sq ft facility cost £35m and is the largest gallery to open outside of London this year.
Regeneration bosses have also predicted a boost to the city economy as rising numbers of visitors spend their money locally after visiting the gallery,
Council leader Peter Box said: “The opening weekend has been a phenomenal success. I was extremely proud to see so many people and children enjoying this inspiring addition to our district.”
Simon Wallis, director of The Hepworth Wakefield said he was amazed at the public response to the opening.
He said: “The positive response from visitors has been truly overwhelming and I would like say a huge thank you to the team and our volunteers, their effort and commitment has helped make the launch a real success.”
The gallery pays homage to Wakefield-born Barbara Hepworth and also displays works by Castleford artist Henry Moore.
Hepworth bosses say the gallery, which features a cafe, shop, learning studios and conference facility, is a place for people to explore art, architecture and the imagination.
But art which will not feature in the gallery was displayed on the eve of the launch in an alternative exhibition on nearby Chantry Bridge.
Pontefract artist Brian Lewis and fellow artists held the event to raise the profile of local talent directly opposite the new gallery.
The Hepworth Wakefield is open on Bank Holiday Monday as family-friendly activities are staged over the weekend. For more information, visit www.hepworthwakefield.org