Museum of the Year award: Skyfall director Sam Mendes presents Yorkshire Sculpture Park with prize

The judges praised the site in Wakefield, which displays work by Henry Moore and Julian Opie

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The Independent Culture

Yorkshire Sculpture Park has beaten rivals including Tate Britain to be named the museum of the year, as it “came of age” after four decades of “visionary leadership” under Peter Murray.

Skyfall director Sam Mendes presented founder and executive director Mr Murray with the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2014 – a commemorative rose bowl – and a cheque for £100,000 at a ceremony in the National Gallery this evening.

The judges praised the site in Wakefield, which displays work by Henry Moore and Julian Opie, saying 2013 marked “the culmination of a 40-year journey of steady, strong and visionary leadership that has firmly positioned this outstanding museum as a world leader”.

They called the exhibition of Yinka Shonibare’s work, and Roger Hiorns’ installation “the crowning highlights” of the year and also hailed a major new work by Ai Weiwei.

Film director Sam Mendes arrives at the ceremony (Getty)

Stephen Deuchar, head of the Art Fund and chair of the judges, said the park “has gone from modest beginning to one of the finest outdoor museums one might ever imagine”. The museum has 350,000 visitors a year, and has 160 staff and 220 volunteers.

The winner saw off the challenge of five rivals which also included Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft in East Sussex, London’s Hayward Gallery, the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich.

The award, previously known as the Gulbenkian Prize, was established in 2003 to recognise the best of the UK’s internationally acclaimed museums.