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 most recently on the response of museums and galleries to the lock down due to Coronovirus published by Arts Industry. Click Here to view.
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). Currently she is Visiting Professor at Manchester Metropolitan University where she heads up the Mitzi Cunliffe and Manchester Women Artists Project.
She is Chair of the Methodist Modern Art Collection (view here), a Trustee of Leeds Art Fund and the Museum of Bath at Work, and sits on Advisory Committees at the School of Art, Aberystwyth University and Ironbridge Museums Trust. She is President of Bath Evening Art Society.
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.
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) and Claude Monet (2019), as well as her forthcoming book Mitzi in Manchester about the American sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe, due for publication in 2020.
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. 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.
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: