Anne Wilkes Tucker was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she attended public schools. She received undergraduate degrees from Randolph Macon Woman's College and Rochester Institute of Technology and a graduate degree from the Visual Studies Workshop, a division of the State University of New York. While in graduate school, she worked at the George Eastman House in Rochester and at the Gernsheim collection in the Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, Austin. In 1970-71, she was a curatorial intern in the photography department of Museum of Modern Art, New York.
She became Curator Emerita at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, when she retired in 2015. She became the museum’s first curator of photography in 1976 and founded the Photography Department that now has a collection of over 30,000 photographs. She has curated over forty exhibitions including retrospectives for Robert Frank, Ray K. Metzker, Brassaï, George Krause, Louis Faurer and Richard Misrach, as well as surveys on the Czech Avant-garde, Contemporary Korea Photography, Allan Chasanoff collection, the History of Japanese Photography and a history of war photography, which won prestigious awards. She has also curated the first museum shows for artists such as Joel Sternfeld and Catherine Wagner and the first exhibition in the United States by the Chinese photographer Chen Changfen. Most of these exhibitions were accompanied by a publication, some of which have been reprinted decades later. She has contributed essays to over 100 monographs and catalogues of photographs, including those on the works of Irving Penn, Mark Cohen, Toshio Shibata, Jungjin Lee, Alec Soth, Arthur Leipzig, David Carol, David Maisel, Dave Anderson, Jeff Liao, Jay DeFeo, Jen Davis, and Eddie Adams. She has also published many articles and lectured throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America. She has been awarded fellowships by the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, The Getty Center, and the Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, and received an Alumnae Achievement award from Randolph Macon Woman's College. In 2001, in an issue devoted to “America’s Best,” TIME magazine honored her as “America’s Best Curator.” She was the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Focus Award from the Griffin Museum of Photography in 2006. She received an honorary doctorate degree fron the College of Brockport, The State University of New York, 2011.