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Birmingham Museums Trust appoints first Director

Birmingham Museums Trust appoints first Director

15th February 2012

Professor Ann Sumner has been named as the first Director of Birmingham Museums Trust.

Currently Director at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Birmingham, Professor Sumner will take charge of the new body responsible for running Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery and Thinktank.

She will start work with the new Trust from its inception in April and will assume her new role on a full-time basis from 1 May.

Professor Sumner said: “I am enormously honoured to have been appointed to this exciting new role. The high quality and diversity of the collections which will be managed by the new Trust are outstanding, and hugely popular with the people of Birmingham, the West Midlands and beyond.

“I have had a wonderful four and a half years working at the Barber Institute at the University of Birmingham and I am now relishing an exciting new opportunity.

“This is a key moment for the city and the wider region, and I look forward to working with the Trust team and building on their recent successes.”

Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture, Cllr Martin Mullaney, said: “Professor Sumner has a wealth of experience and her appointment comes at a very exciting time for museum services in Birmingham.

“We’re combining the Birmingham City Council Museums and Thinktank Trust into a new single trust that, in visitor numbers, will instantly become one of the world’s top 40 museums, attracting more than one million visitors a year.”

Chairman of Thinktank Len Clark, who has been overseeing the merger, added: “I am delighted Ann Sumner has accepted the position of Director and am confident that Ann will make a significant contribution to the future success of Birmingham Museums Trust. She has a wealth of experience and emerged as the ideal candidate to steer the new trust.”

Professor Michael Sheppard, Provost and Vice-Principal of the University of Birmingham, said “The arts are an essential part of life at the University, and are an intrinsic element of our city.  We are delighted that Ann’s experience, leading the acclaimed Barber Institute at the University, will now enhance the cultural landscape of the city.  We wish her and the new Birmingham Museums Trust every success.”

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, welcomed the news of Professor Sumner’s appointment. He said: “Ann Sumner has demonstrated great flair and creativity as Director of the Barber Institute and is a fine choice as Director of the new Birmingham Museums Trust.  She will follow on from the excellent achievements of Rita McLean in directing the Birmingham collections in recent years.”

Professor Sumner studied History of Art at the Courtauld Institute, University of London, and undertook her PhD in History at Newnham College, University of Cambridge.

She began her career at the National Portrait Gallery, London and has held curatorial positions at the Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Harewood House Trust, and the Holburne Museum, Bath. Prior to her appointment to the Barber Institute in October 2007, she had been Head of Fine Art at  Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales, for seven years.

Professor Sumner’s specialist areas of interest are 17th-century British portraits and miniatures, French Impressionist painting, including the art of Alfred Sisley, Pre-Raphaelite artists, especially John Brett, and the art of Wales, being an expert on the paintings of Thomas Jones, pupil of Richard Wilson. She also has experience in country house management  and has a long term interest in the social history of lawn tennis.

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

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