Minutes of the Board of Trustees - December 2006

Meeting held Friday 8 December 2006

Minutes of the last meeting and matters arising

1. The Board approved the minutes of the meeting held on 10 November 2006 with one minor amendment. They were signed later by the Chairman when this had been carried out.

Matters arising: minute 5, potential acquisitions: the Chairman reported that the purchase agreement for Guercino's 'The Cumaean Sibyl with a Putto' had been signed by both parties.

The Board discussed at length a number of potential acquisitions of major pictures which might come on to the market and which might be expected to fetch very large sums. They also reviewed all possible sources of funding. They agreed to continue discussion of the strategies open to them at an additional Board meeting to be called in January.

Director's report

2. Exhibitions: the Director reported that 'Velázquez', 'Cézanne' in Britain' and 'Manet to Picasso' were all doing well. Visitor numbers: the November figure was over 500,000, 50,000 above all previous figures for November.

Communications strategy

3. The Board warmly congratulated the Communications department on their paper, and approved the strategy set out in it. The Chairman suggested that more might be done to attract into the Gallery those who came to events in Trafalgar Square. The Director of Communications said the department was in touch and working with the GLA, who had most recently agreed to the Gallery being promoted on the big screen in the Square.

Division between Tate and National Gallery collections

4. The Board discussed a possible memorandum of understanding with the Tate, which they agreed needed more work. It would be brought back to a future meeting for further discussion.

Scientific Consultative Group meeting: report

5. The Scientist Trustee had had to leave the meeting at this point but left the following report on the recent meeting of the Scientific Consultative Group:

  • The Board had seen written reports of the presentations made to the Group which spoke for themselves

  • The Consultative Group had been very impressed and strongly supported the work of the Scientific department

  • Following on the retirement of two key members of staff, the department was in need of some succession planning

  • The Group were also concerned about the means of replacing ageing equipment; and while the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) might become the main research council, the need for support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) would remain.

The Director of Scientific Research then summarised the recommendations of the House of Lords Scientific and Technology Select Committee's report on 'science and heritage', published in November:

  • That a comprehensive national strategy for heritage science should be developed embracing the immoveable and moveable heritage for the UK as a whole, for which English Heritage should provide a Secretariat and which should be over-seen by the newly appointed Chief Scientific Adviser to DCMS

  • That the research councils should set up a programme of research and collaborative projects to build capacity in heritage science with the AHRC taking on the role of principal supporting agency for research in conservation and heritage science.

Loan requests and schedule of loans out

6. The Board agreed to the loan requests, including those with qualifications, as set out in the Senior Curator's paper; endorsed the Gallery's decisions to decline to lend; and noted the changes to the dates of two exhibitions in Italy in 2006/7 affecting the following loans from the Gallery: NG 6381, 1214, 748, 1125.1 and 2, and 630.1-10.

The Board also approved the plan to substitute less vulnerable loans for the pictures on panel included in the next travelling exhibition, 'Work, Rest and Play', should there continue to be problems with the air-conditioning system at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery. The Board noted the schedule of loans out.

Appointments to the Board of AFNGL

7. It was agreed that consideration of the minutes of the Audit and Finance Committee meetings held on 23 November 2006 should be postponed until the March Board meeting as the Chairman of both Committees had had to leave the meeting before this agenda item was reached.

Fund-raising

8. The recently appointed Head of Development made her report. She had identified three priorities for fund-raising: the masterplan, running costs and picture acquisitions. She outlined the information and support she would need both from inside the Gallery and from the Board of Trustees with regard to the masterplan; she said there was often tension between a major fund-raising campaign and maintaining established regular income which would have to be managed if the Gallery embarked on such a campaign; and said the Development Office should become involved earlier in the process of raising acquisition funding.

She also reported on a fact-finding mission to New York to visit the offices of AFNGL and various American museums and galleries. She advised that there would be no need for AFNGL to alter its fund-raising strategy as a result of its change of exempt status as it already fulfilled the requirement to raise over 10% of its income from the American public.

Pictures for treatment

9. The Board agreed that 'The Madonna and Child with Saints Peter and Catherine of Siena and a Carthusian Donor' by Sodoma (NG 1144) and 'The Four Ages of Man: Childhood, Youth, Maturity and Old Age' by Nicolas Lancret (NG 101 -104) were ready to go back on show.

They also examined:

  • 'The Lottery in Piazza di Montecitorio' by Giovanni Paolo Panini (NG 6605)
  • 'The Virgin and Child' by Lorenzo di Credi (NG 593)
  • 'The Virgin and Child with Two Angels', Italian, Florentine (NG 2508)
  • 'Portrait of Jean de la Chambre at the Age of 33' by Frans Hals (NG 6411)
  • 'Portrait of a Young Woman' by Gerrit Dou (NG 968)
  • 'Portrait of Anna Maria van Schurman' by Jan Lievens (NG 1095)
  • 'Delaware Water Gap' by George Inness the Elder (NG 4998) and
  • 'Saint Bavo about to receive the Monastic Habit at Ghent' by Peter Paul Rubens (NG 57) in the course of undergoing treatment.

Picture movements

10. The Board noted the report on picture movements.

Minutes of the Committees of the Board

11. The Board noted the minutes of the Trustees' Masterplan Committee held on 23 November 2006.

Revised Trustees' Handbook

12. The Board approved the revised Trustees' Handbook with one amendment and provided there was clarification of the way in which Trustees would in future carry out their responsibility for approving loans.

Any other Business

11. There being no other business, the Chairman brought the meeting to a close.

Copies of previous Board minutes can be obtained from the Libraries and Archive department.

Confidential and sensitive information has been excluded from these published minutes in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000

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