Ann Sumner

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Ann Sumner
Alma mater
Occupation Museum / Gallery Director
Employer University of Leeds
Known for Art curation

Ann Sumner is an art historian, exhibition curator and museum director and is currently Head of Cultural Engagement at the University of Leeds. She was the executive director of the Brontë Society,[1][2] a former director of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts at Birmingham University, England[3] (2007–2012),[4] and the first director of the Birmingham Museums Trust, comprising the merged Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and Thinktank, from 2012[4] until 2013.[1]


Sumner studied History of Art at the Courtauld Institute, University of London,[4] and obtained a PhD in History from Newnham College, University of Cambridge.[4]


She started her career at the National Portrait Gallery, London and has held curatorial positions at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Harewood House, and the Holburne Museum, Bath.[4] Before her directorship at the Barber Institute, University of Birmingham, she was Head of Fine Art at National Museum Wales, for seven years (2000–2007).[4] In 2007 she became Barber Professor of Fine Art and Curatorial Practice and remains Visiting Professor.[5][6]

Her specialist areas of interest are 17th-century British portraiture and miniature painting, 18th-century British portraiture and landscape painting, French 19th-century painting, the art of Wales and has long had an interest in art inspired by the game of lawn tennis.[3] Her research interests include public art by the American sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe in the 1950s.

She was a founding member of the Steering Group for Pre 1900 European Paintings Specialist Subject Network, is a Trustee of the Methodist Art Collection of Modern Art, was a member of the panel from the Leverhulme Art History Prize 2010/11,[3] and sits on the Curatorial Advisory Group for the Ironbridge Gorge Museums and is a member of the Advisory Committee for the School of Art Gallery & Museum, Aberystwyth University.[3] She is the Historic Collections Adviser to the Harewood House Trust.

Books by (or edited by) Ann Sumner[edit]

  • Court on Canvas: Tennis in Art (with Kenneth McConkey, Susan Elks and Robert Holland). Philip Wilson Publishers, 2011. ISBN 978-0-85667-706-9.
  • The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham: Director's Choice. Scala Publishers, 2010. ISBN 978-1-85759-652-6.
  • Sisley in England and Wales (with Christopher Riopelle). National Gallery Company Ltd, 2008. ISBN 978-1-85709-4138.
  • Colour and Light: Fifty Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Works at the National Museum of Wales. National Museum of Wales, 2005. ISBN 0-7200-0551-5.
  • Thomas Jones: An Artist Rediscovered (with Greg Smith, Christopher Riopelle, Charles Nugent, Peter Bower, Lindsay Stainton, Kate Lowrey, Bethany McIntyre and Oliver Fairclough.) Yale University Press in association with National Museum of Wales, 2003. ISBN 0-7200-0534-5.
  • John Brett: A Pre-Raphaelite on the Shores of Wales(with Christopher Newall, David Cordingley and Kate Lowrey.) National Museum of Wales, 2001. ISBN 0-7200-0507-8.
  • Objects of Affection: Pre-Raphaelite Portraits by John Brett (with Christiana Payne.) The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham, 2010. ISBN 978-0704-427-35-8.
  • Death, Passion and Politics: Van Dyck's Portraits of Venetia Stanley and George Digby (with Giles Waterfield, Polly Amos, Oliver Millar, Caroline Bowden, Beverly Southgate and Claire Gittings.) Dulwich Picture Gallery. ISBN 1-898-51907-2.
  • In Front of Nature: The European Landscapes of Thomas Fearnley (with Greg Smith, Ernst Haverkamp, David Jackson and Kate Lowrey.) The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham, 2012. ISBN 978-1-907804-10-6.


  1. ^ a b "Ann Sumner resigns as director of Birmingham Museums Trust". Museums Association. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "Ann Sumner steps down from Brontë Society". Museums Association. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d "The Barber Institute of Fine Arts". Barber Institute. 2010-02-01. Retrieved 15 February 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Coleman, Geoff (2012-02-15). "Birmingham Museums Trust appoints first director". Birmingham City Council. Retrieved 15 February 2012. 
  5. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 October 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-26. 
  6. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 October 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-26.