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Museum Expert Ann to Drive Birmingham Museums

Museum Expert Ann to Drive Birmingham Museums

1st May 2012

Professor Ann Sumner has now taken up the position as Director of the new Birmingham Museums Trust.

Professor Sumner is an experienced museum professional who has been Director of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Birmingham since 2007. In addition, she has held posts at the National Portrait Gallery, National Museum of Wales, Dulwich Picture Gallery and the Harewood House Trust.

Professor Sumner is now tasked with leading the new body responsible for running all of the outstanding venues within the new trust, which includes Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery and Thinktank.

Honorary Aldermen Len Clark, Chairman of Birmingham Museums Trust comments, “We are delighted to be welcoming Ann to the organisation. She brings with her a wealth of experience in the arts sector, along with great expertise in promoting culture at a regional and national level. We are delighted to have Ann on board to drive the new organisation forward.”

Professor Sumner said, “I am honoured to be heading up this new family of museums. This is the beginning of an exciting new era for the museums and historic venues in Birmingham, and for the thousands of visitors to these amazing destinations each year. Work has already begun on improving and enhancing the visitor experience at these venues. We will be ensuring excellence with inspiring interpretation of our collections and offering a wide ranging, exciting exhibitions and learning programme for all our audiences.”

The new Birmingham Museums Trust is the largest museums service in the UK to go to Trust status, and has been established to encourage greater collaboration across all venues: Aston Hall, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Blakesley Hall, Museum Collections Centre, Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Sarehole Mill, Soho House, Thinktank and Weoley Castle. Already, the innovative approach of the trust has been recognised by Arts Council England as a Renaissance major partner museum, and has been awarded £5,091,615 over a three-year period.

The new independent trust is focused on sustaining and developing key partnerships within the city, regionally, nationally and internationally, in order to deliver excellence in audience-focussed museum services, and meet the needs of Birmingham communities.

Professor Sumner continues, “Our first major challenge as a new Trust has arisen with the opportunity to acquire a major 'swagger' portrait of the eminent Birmingham physician Dr John Ash, by Sir Joshua Reynolds. We are eager to maintain this impressive painting on display at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery so that the people of the city can continue to enjoy it”. Birmingham Museums Trust has submitted an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the outcome of this will be announced in June 2012. Birmingham Museums Trust will also seek to raise funding through a local public appeal.

Professor Sumner is on the steering group for the National Gallery’s Advisory Committee for Research on European Paintings; a member of the curatorial and academic committee of Ironbridge Gorge Museums; on the Museum and Gallery Committee for Aberystwyth School of Art; on the Committee for the Leverhulme Prize for Art History; and on the steering group for the proposed lawn tennis museum in Edgbaston.


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