Friday, December 07, 2012

Friday, December 07, 2012 12:04 am by M. in ,    No comments
Breaking news from the Brontë Parsonage Museum. As we read on Facebook:
We are delighted to announce the appointment of our new Executive Director Professor Ann Sumner. Ann will take up her new post at the Parsonage on February 11, next year, and is currently Director of the Birmingham Museums Trust.
As The Chamberlain Files informed just yesterday, Professor Ann Sumner resigned from her position in the Birmingham Museums Trust for personal and family reasons:
The director of a trust set up to run Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and Thinktank at Millennium Point has resigned after just six months in the job. (...)
Former Birmingham cabinet culture member Martin Mullaney, who helped oversee formation of the trust, said Professor Sumner’s departure was a surprise. Mr Mullaney added: “It is a blow, no doubt about it. She was very, very highly regarded in her field.” (Paul Dale)
EDIT: Museums Journal explains the personal and family reasons:
“Ann Sumner has made a decision for personal and family reasons to relocate to Yorkshire to another role and to be nearer her family and as a result will be stepping down from her role as director in the new year,” said Birmingham Museums Trust chairman Len Clark.
Birmingham News Room provides some interesting biographical data:
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.
She recently published an article on Museums Journal (December 2012) which is quite relevant to her future  position:
Are regional museums sleepwalking into a situation in which university expertise replaces curatorial research? (...)
University partnerships support, but cannot replace, curatorial skills. Exchange of expertise goes both ways – universities are increasingly under pressure to demonstrate social impact, and the curator brings invaluable experience of communication with audiences.
Collaboration can result in lasting relationships between university researchers and curators and each side can learn from the other. However, is the success of partnerships masking underlying problems?
Are regional curators becoming facilitators for academics rather than researchers in their own right? Ideally, partnerships should leave a legacy that benefits both sides in the longer term.
Curatorial work cannot be seen simply in terms of short-term projects. More support for research could perhaps be fostered by individual giving, and regional Friends organisations should also be encouraged to support curatorial research.
The debate highlighted the fact that many regional museums do not even have research policies. While regional curators are faced with budget restraints that often make it impossible for them to travel or to maintain research libraries, research can be relegated to a low priority.
And Twitter is also reacting to the news:
Hilary McGowan ‏@HilaryMcGowan
Does Ann Sumner really know what she's taking on? Birmingham was one thing but the Bronte place is not of this world!

Christine Went ‏@ChrisWentBronte
The Bronte Society's new Exec Director will be Professor AnnSumner, described on Womans Hour as the most powerful woman in UK museum world.


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