Yorkshire Sculpture Park, set in the beautiful Wakefield Countryside, to open new visitor centre in March 2019.

06 November 2018

The new £3.6million visitor centre – to be known as The Weston as a result of significant support from family grant-maker, The Garfield Weston Foundation – will open to the public on Saturday 30 March 2019.

Built on a historic quarry site within the 18th-century Bretton Estate, The Weston will upgrade the visitor experience at the East Entrance to the Park, less than one mile away from M1 Junction 38. 
The beautiful, light-filled building is designed by architects Feilden Fowles and constructed by Yorkshire-based company William Birch. It will increase essential capacity at the award-winning open-air museum and gallery in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, which welcomed over 480,000 people in 2017, its 40th anniversary year. The Centre comprises a restaurant (140m2), gallery space (125m2), public foyer (80m2) and shop (50m2).

‘The Weston Family was delighted to support this project to enable more people to enjoy the Park and contribute to YSP’s long-term financial sustainability.’

Philippa Charles, Director, The Weston Foundation

The Weston is carefully designed to have minimum impact on the site and, in common with previous YSP developments, to fit sympathetically with the historic landscape. Constructed from layered pigmented concrete, evoking the strata of sandstone bedrock, the building emerges from the ground and is defined by a concrete saw-tooth roof. Its low profile protects it from the motorway and forms a sheltered, sunken terrace with views across the Park towards the Lower Lake and Bretton Hall. 
Naturalistic planting, including a wild-flower roof, designed by Jonathan Cook Landscape Architects, is inspired by 19th-century Yorkshireman and plant adventurer, Reginald Farrer. Well insulated and naturally ventilated, the centre also features an air-source heat pump and a pioneering low-energy environmental control system which uses a passive humidity buffer to maintain favourable gallery conditions.
The centre will enhance physical, intellectual and sensory access to the landscape, ecology and heritage of the historic estate, as well as to sculpture presented elsewhere in the Park. The new gallery will showcase a changing programme of temporary exhibitions, with an interactive project by the important Indian artists Thukral and Tagra inaugurating the space.
The restaurant, with open kitchen and Scandinavian-inspired interior, including a wood-burning stove, will offer table service and a fresh, seasonal, and sustainably produced menu. The new shop will extend YSP’s successful retail operation, providing opportunities for both artists and designers. New product ranges have been especially developed, in collaboration with craftsmen and women across the UK, taking inspiration from nature and the landscape. Visitors will also be able to purchase produce such as bakes, honey and chutneys made at the Park.
The Weston is an important addition to the Park’s physical infrastructure, which began with the opening of Longside Gallery in 2001; YSP Centre in 2002; the Underground Gallery in 2005; the transformation of the estate Kennel Block into a learning centre and café in 2011; the restoration of the Chapel in 2014; and the refurbishment of the Bothy Gallery in 2016. Named White Rose Large Attraction of the Year in 2016 and Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2014, YSP contributes around £10 million each year to the local economy.
The project is supported by Arts Council England, Wakefield Council, The Garfield Weston Foundation, Dunard Fund, The Foyle Foundation, The Sackler Trust, The Wolfson Foundation, B&M Retail Plc, The Arnold Burton Charitable Trust, The John S Cohen Foundation, Mtec, The Holbeck Charitable Trust, Catkin Pussywillow Charitable Trust, and other funders who wish to remain anonymous. Visitors to the Park have also contributed over £50,000 in donations to the project.

‘The new centre is a reflection of our ambition to increase long-term resilience and sustainability by building audiences and further developing our artistic programme.’

Peter Murray CBE, Executive and Founding Director, YSP