THE Hepworth Wakefield has welcomed more than 500,000 visitors.
And the £35m gallery has a double reason to celebrate its first birthday this weekend after making the short list of the Museum of the Year award.
The gallery opened on May 21 2011 and organisers had originally hoped to attract 150,000 visitors during the first 12 months.
But it has exceeded all predictions and brought in an estimated £10m for the local economy.
The Hepworth is one of only four finalists shortlisted to win the coveted £100,000 Art Fund Prize and title of Museum of the Year.
Simon Wallis, The Hepworth Wakefield director, said: “We are so delighted to have made it to the shortlist of this prestigious award and we would like to thank our wonderful audience who have supported the gallery and helped us to reach this exciting stage.
“It’s deeply gratifying to be recognised as one of the UK’s top galleries and museums, and for this to come just as we’ve achieved 500,000 visitors before our first birthday on 21 May.
“If you’ve not yet visited The Hepworth Wakefield, now’s the time to come and see this inspiring, free, world-class gallery.”
According to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, it is in the UK’s top 50 most visited attractions and top 10 most popular art galleries.
The gallery was named in honour of Wakefield born sculptor Barbara Hepworth and includes some of her works.