Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield in West Yorkshire (UK) has just been awarded the well-deserved accolade of the Art Fund Museum of the Year. Part of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle, which includes the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield and the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, the YSP is a remarkable place. 500 acres of beautiful open countryside and landscaped gardens surrounding Bretton Hall contain over 60 carefully-positioned sculptures by international artists. Indoor galleries host regular exhibitions.
Statues in the grounds alongside the grazing sheep include a number of huge Henry Moore bronzes and towering cedar wood creations by Ursula von Rydingsvard. A slope from the car park is adorned with Barbara Hepworth's Family of Man. The recently restored chapel hosts artwork by Ai Weiwei.
Lakes, meadows and woodlands are brimming with wildlife – herons nest on the island; swans and cygnets glide across the water alongside great crested grebe and their chicks; kingfishers flash by in streaks of orange and turquoise. Wardens and volunteers are on hand to take visitors on tours of the statues and WILDlife walks around the lakes. These can be booked on line at www.ysp.co.uk
Just one mile from the M1 at Junction 38, it is my favourite place to wander with my camera all year round. Amazingly, entrance to the grounds and the indoor galleries is free, but there is a fee for parking. The cafes serve delicious cakes and lunches, and the shop sells tasteful items related to the exhibitions, original works of art and numbered prints. Thoroughly recommended for a great day out.