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Ann Sumner is an art historian, former museum director, experienced curator and museum consultant, as well as an academic researcher who publishes and lectures frequently. She regularly contributes to opinion pieces such as commenting on funding for regional museums and exhibitions  in an article ‘Crisis in Regional Museums’ written by Clive Aslet for Country Life (September 23 2015) and more recently on the response of museums and galleries to the lock down due to Coronovirus published by Arts Industry (May 26 2020Click Here to view. Her chapter on the American sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe will appear in Discovering Women Sculptors published by Public Statues and Sculpture Association later in 2023.


Specialist Areas of Research

Her fields of interest include 18th and 19th century British landscape painting, French Impressionism, Welsh Art, Public Sculpture and Women artists and collectors including the Gwendoline and Margaret Davies as well as pioneering the study of art inspired by the game of lawn tennis.

She has successfully curated a number of ground-breaking exhibitions including Thomas Jones: An Artist Re-Discovered (2003 -4)Court on Canvas: Tennis in Art (2011), In Front of Nature: The European Landscapes of Thomas Fearnley (2012), Mitzi Cunliffe's Man-Made Fibres (2016) and Mitzi Cunliffe: an American in Manchester (2021) and she contributed to the Francois Depeaux, L'homme aux 600 tableaux exhibition at the Musee des Beaux Art, Rouen (2020). She also wrote and established the University of Leeds Public Art Trail (2017) and the Methodist Modern Art Collection Art Trail Stories of Change: Hope, Faith and Love for City of Culture 2021 Click here to view .

Positions Held

She is Chair of the Methodist Modern Art Collection (view here), Vice Chair  of Leeds Art Fund and a Trustee of the Museum of Bath at Work, and sits on Advisory Committees at the School of Art, Aberystwyth University. 


Ann has held curatorial positions at the National Portrait Gallery, Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, Harewood House Trust and the Holburne Museum, Bath. In 2000 became Head of Fine Art at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, becoming Director of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham and Barber Professor of Fine Art and Curatorial Practice in 2007, and the first Director of Birmingham Museums Trust in 2012. From 2014 - 17 she headed up the Public Art Project at the University of Leeds and ran the Yorkshire Year of the Textile project 2016-17. She is currently Visiting Professor at Manchester School of Art (Manchester Metropolitan University) where she has been researching the public art of sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe, Click here to view.


Ann is the author of a number of books including Colour and Light: Fifty Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Works at the National Museum of Wales (2005), Faces of Wales (2006), The Barber Institute of Fine Arts (Director's Choice) (2011), Claude Monet (2019), Edouard Manet (2021) Mitzi Cunliffe An American in Manchester  (2021) available from Manchester Modernist Click here to view.


Her freelance work has included writing the report Joseph Wright of Derby Project: Creating a Centre of Excellence, for Derby Museums Trust in 2018 and being a member of the Architrave team contributing the audience development strand for the Norfolk Archaeology Trust Strategic Plan 2020–25. From 2015-18 she was Historic Collections Adviser at Harewood House Trust, Yorkshire, where she led the Harewood contribution to Chippendale 300 entitled Designer, Maker, Decorator in 2018, regularly writing the Christie’s sponsored blog. As part of the SumnerMcIntyre museum consultancy Ann and her colleague Beth McIntyre Ann has worked on the Bringing out the Best Public Engagement and wrote the Final Report ( April 2021 ),Click here to view.  She worked again with Beth on the Gawthorpe Textiles Collection Stronger Futures Project as Organisational Development Consultants and currently they are Collections Advisors to West Midlands Museums Development.  Ann has contributed to a number of arts and heritage television and radio programmes including Britain’s Lost Masterpieces, Series 4 which was screened BBC 4 on 7 November 2019. Click here to view and Inside the Factory Chairs Series 6 which was last screened on 15 February 2023, Click here to view.  


In 2018 was made a Fellow of Aberystwyth University, in recognition of her work on Welsh Art. Follow the link to read more of Ann's Fellowship:

Click Here


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