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Ann works in a freelance capacity with a number of museum consultancies and independently. She has a passion for imaginative audience development and advises in areas such as public engagement programming, strategic planning, museum accreditation and fund-raising. She has wide experience of carrying out in depth research, one to one interviews, chairing focus groups and creating visitor surveys, gathering information, opinions and thoughts from individuals or groups which feed into long-term planning. She is the co-author of the report the Joseph Wright of Derby Project: Creating a Centre of Excellence commissioned by Derby Museums Trust in 2018, carrying out wide stake-holder consultation. She was a member of the Architrave team in 2019, contributing the audience development strand for the Norfolk Archaeology Trust Strategic Plan 2020 – 25, as part of the Onwards and Upwards project. From 2015 – 18 she was Historic Collections Adviser at Harewood House Trust, Yorkshire, leading on the Chippendale 300 project.

Ann worked from 2020 - 21 with colleague Beth McIntyre as SumnerMcIntyre on the Kirklees Museums & Galleries Bringing Out the Best NLHF Resilient Heritage Project, to understand the ambitions and aspirations of people in Kirklees regarding heritage, to inform visioning and master planning specifically looking at the ambition to develop a new museum and art gallery in Huddersfield. They also worked together at Gawthorpe Textiles Collection as organisational development consultants on the Stronger Futures Project (2020 - 21) including having discussions with the University of Central Lancashire. Together they are currently Collections Advisors for West Midlands Museums Development.

In discussion with Adam Bowett, Chair of the Chippendale Society, at the Chippendale conference April 2018, Leeds City Art Gallery

Lecturing on Chippendale at Paxton House June 2018

On 5th June 2018 Ann visited All Saints Church Otley where Thomas Chippendale was baptised in 1718.

At Harewood, Ann contributed to the Harewood’s Electricity Story project. Her major focus was researching the  furniture maker Thomas Chippendale for the tercentenary celebrations, Chippendale 300 throughout 2018, with the displays entitled Designer, Maker, Decorator at Harewood. She sat on the Chippendale 300 Steering Group,  and lectured widely including at Paxton House on 28 June 2018 and presented a paper at the Furniture History Society Chippendale conference in Leeds April 2018 on the early reception of the Harewood commission, view here. Ann’s paper entitled The Chippendale Firm at Harewood: Early Visitors' Experiences can be heard by following this link: Click here. Her paper was published in the Furniture History Society Journal 2018 Volume LIV in October 2018. Ann published on the Chippendale celebrations at Harewood regularly in a blog sponsored by Christie’s and she lectures on Chippendale by request.  On the anniversary of Thomas Chippendale’s Baptism Day, 5 June 2018, she visited All Saints Church, in Otley, to see the exhibition there and the font, describing her visit and the Otley Residents Day at Harewood House, when she gave a guided talk, in the blog Otley Residents visit Harewood House.

She regularly chairs symposiums and conferences, as well as academic workshops and staff development workshops. She leads visioning Away Days for boards developing strategic thinking. She chaired the symposium 21st century Perspectives on Murals & Art for Public Spaces: Duncan Grant/Lothar Gotz/Lincoln in June 2016, chaired the Axminster at Harewood ethical debate (read more here), led an In Conversation at Bradford Industrial Museum in May 2017 at the launch of the exhibition Interweave with the textile artist Deborah Gardner, (read more) and chaired the Yorkshire Year of the Textile legacy symposium at the end of May 2017 bringing together all those who had participated in the project. 

Ann Sumner chairing Duncan Grant Confere

Ann chairing the 21st century Perspectives on Murals & Art in Public Spaces in Lincoln 2016

Ann has contributed many media interviews over the years including to the Radio 4 Today Programme, to the One Show and BBC Breakfast discussing the Patti Smith benefit concert at the Bronte Parsonage Museum in 2013 and in 2014, she was interviewed by Michael Portillo for his Great British Railway Journeys and later in the month featured in Jamie Cullum’s for BBC Radio 4, discussing Emily Bronte’s piano and the role of women playing pianos in art. She regularly worked in Wales presenting programmes on Thomas Jones and Alfred Sisley and returns to Wales regularly, filming an interview with the production company Tern for the Britain's Lost Masterpieces series on BBC Radio 4, at Gregynog in Montgomeryshire, the home of the famous Davies Sisters in January 2019. This was broadcast on 7 November 2019. View here


Ann advises a number of private clients who collect works in her area of expertise.


For enquiries about Ann’s availability for consultancy work, leading focus groups, presenting, audience research projects, or chairing events please see the Contact page.

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