Frank Willett England Nigeria United States

Biography of Frank Willett

Frank Willett
Frank Willett

Frank Willett, described by an obituarist as the "leading Africanist of his generation", was the first Director of the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, from 1976 to 1990, and titular Professor in the Hunterian Museum. Under his dierctorship, the Hunterian Art Gallery opened in 1981.

Willett graduated from University College, Oxford with an MA and a Diploma in Anthropology. During the Second World War he worked as a war damage clerk for the Inland Revenue and as a linguist in Japanese. In 1950 he became a Keeper in the Department of Ethnology and General Archaeology at the Manchester Museum and he worked in Nigeria during the late 1950s and early 1960s as Archaeologist for the Department of Antiquities and Curator of the Ife Museum. He was appointed research Fellow at Nuffield College in 1963 and in 1966 he went to the USA as Professor of Art History, African and Interdisciplinary Studies at the Northwestern University in Illinois, remaining there until he came to Glasgow in 1976.

In 2004 Willett published the award-winning The Art of Ife on cd-rom. He was awarded a CBE in 1985.


Frank Willett
Anthropologist and Museum Director

Born 18 August 1925, Bolton, England.
Died 15 June 2006.
GU Degree:
University Link: Professor
Occupation categories: anthropologists; archaeologists; museum directors
NNAF Reference: GB/NNAF/P144881
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Record last updated: 5th Mar 2013

Country Associations

England England
Place of Birth

Nigeria Nigeria, Ife

United States United States, Illinois

University Connections

University Roles

  • Professor