Yorkshire Sculpture Park gets British art prize

LONDON - An outdoor museum in the English county of Yorkshire that features works by Chinese dissident artist Ai Wei Wei, Henry Moore and other noted sculptors won a 100,000-pound (US$170,200) prize on Wednesday as The Art Fund's Museum of the Year.

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park was deemed by the prize judges at the British arts charity to be "a truly outstanding museum with a bold artistic vision". The award was presented by the British film director Sam Mendes.

"A perfect fusion of art and landscape, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park has gone from modest beginning to one of the finest outdoor museums one might ever imagine," said Stephen Deuchar, The Art Fund's director and a former director of London's Tate Britain gallery.

One of the stand out exhibitions at the park is a timeline by Ai Wei Wei that marks important dates in Chinese history, such as the millions of famine deaths in the 20th century and troops opening fire on demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in 1989, charted parallel to important moments in the artist's own life.

Ai Wei Wei directed the installation by email because his passport has been confiscated and he is unable to leave China.

The sculpture park in the northern city of Wakefield also contains works by Moore, Julian Opie, James Turrell and Yinka Shonibare.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park was chosen from a shortlist of six finalists that also comprised Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft in East Sussex, Hayward Gallery in London, Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich, and the Tate Britain, London.