She will take over day-to-day management of the Bronte Parsonage Museum at Haworth.
And she will also lead the world-renowned international literary society and promote its contemporary arts programme.
Professor Sumner, currently director of the Birmingham Museums Trust, spent many years working in Yorkshire.
She held curatorial posts at various organisations, including the Harewood House Trust.
She will take up the new role in February.
“As a lifelong Bronte enthusiast, I could not be starting at a better time, with refurbishment of the Parsonage Museum coming up in early 2013 and planning for the bicentenary celebrations of Charlotte Bronte’s birth in 2016,” she said.
“I feel honoured and excited to be taking up my new role and returning to work in the beautiful county of West Yorkshire. I’m hugely looking forward to the challenges ahead.”
Bronte Society president, Bonnie Greer, said the appointment would be a huge boost. She added: “The wealth of Ann’s curatorial experience is a great resource for us to draw upon, and her national high standing as an art historian and museums director will certainly boost our profile, both within the UK and internationally.” keighleynews