Willett, Frank 1925-2006
WILLETT, Frank 1925-2006
See index for CA sketch: Born August 18, 1925, in Bolton, Lancashire, England; died June 15, 2006. Anthropologist, archaeologist, educator, museum curator, and author. Noted as a specialist in West African civilizations, Willett was a university professor and first director of the University of Glasgow's Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery. After serving in the Royal Air Force during World War II, he was hired by the University of Manchester Museum as keeper of the department of ethnology and general archeology. In association with the museum, he traveled to Nigeria to collect artifacts, and this work led him to be named honorary surveyor of antiquities from 1956 to 1957 by the Nigerian government. Leaving the Manchester Museum in 1958, he served as archaeologist in Nigeria for the next five years and headed the Ife Museum before returning to England in 1964. Two years as research fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, were followed by his traveling to the United States to become professor of art history at Northwestern University. It was while there that he completed two of his respected works: Ife in the History of West African Sculpture (1967) and African Art: An Introduction (1971; 3rd edition, 2002). Willett spent the rest of his academic career at the University of Glasgow, where he served as director of the Hunterian Museum from 1976 to 1990, and was honorary senior research fellow thereafter. While at this museum, he organized outstanding archaeological exhibits and was instrumental in the completion of the Hunterian Art Gallery. Also vice chair of the Scottish Museum Council from 1986 to 1989, and curator to the Royal Society of Edinburgh from 1992 to 1997, Willett was appointed Commander of the British Empire in 1985. He was further honored for his work with a 1997 Bicentenary Medal and the 2004 Amoury Talbot Prize from the Royal Anthropological Institute for publishing his extensive catalog of African art objects.
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Times (London, England), July 27, 2006, p. 60.