Minutes of the Board of Trustees – November 2011

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 24 November 2011

Present

Mark Getty, Chairman
Lance Batchelor (items 1-11)
Gautam Dalal
Dexter Dalwood
Professor David Ekserdjian
Lady Heseltine (items 1-8)
Michael Hintze (items 1-7)
Professor Anya Hurlbert
Patricia Lankester
John Nelson
Lady Normanby
Hannah Rothschild (items 1-11)
Caroline Thomson (items 1-8)

In attendance

Dr Nicholas Penny (Director)
Dr Susan Foister (Deputy Director)
Kate Howe (Secretary to the Board)     
David Jaffe (Senior Curator) items 1–3
Larry Keith (Director of Conservation) items 1–5
Carol Plazzotta (Myojin Curator of 16th Century Italian paintings) item 1
Jill Dunkerton (Conservator) item 1
Susanna Avery-Quash  (Research Curator) item 1
Paul Ackroyd (Conservator) item 1
Sarah Ward (Director of Public Affairs and Development) item 6
Greg Perry (Director of Operations and Administration) items 8-12
Cathy Putz (Exhibitions Curator) item 9
Jane Ellis (Head of Finance) items 11-12

Pictures for treatment

1. The Board saw in the course of treatment The Adoration of the Kings by Veronese (NG268).  The Board were told that this painting had not been treated since the mid-19th Century and that the work on the painting would take a further 16-18 months to complete. 

The Board saw, and approved the treatment proposed for, Golfers on the Ice near Haarlem by Van de Velde (NG869), The Virgin and Child with Saints George, James the Greater and a Donor attributed to Giovanni Martini da Udine (NG778) and A Concert by Imitator of Titian (NG3).  

The Board also saw for information, following completion of treatment, ‘Hercules and Deianeira’ by Gossaert (X6583), on loan from the Barber Institute. 

Declarations of interest

2. David Ekserdjian reminded the Board that he was the Curator of a forthcoming exhibition of bronzes at the Royal Academy and said that he could not at this stage confirm from what other institutions he might be requesting loans, but that it was likely that they might include some of the institutions who had requested loans from the Gallery which were to be considered under item 3 of the Agenda.

The Chairman declared an interest in item 13 of the Agenda.

Loans out

3. The Board approved all proposed loans from the Collection. The Board were informed by the Director of a request to lend to an institution to mark the opening of a new gallery extension, which he said had been refused on the basis that the Gallery lends to exhibitions, and not for other celebrations. The Board strongly endorsed this approach.

Minutes of 22 September and matters arising

4. The Minutes were approved subject to one minor amendment. The Chairman was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting.

Director’s report, events and visitor numbers

5. The Board noted the Director’s report.

The Director reported to the Board in the absence of staff on proposed management restructuring. The Director reported that interviews for the post of Curator of Paintings before 1500 had been conducted.

The Director confirmed that a full report on the Leonardo exhibition would be brought to the Board in due course in the usual way, and that this would include a report on 'Leonardo live'. There was a discussion of the possibility of the Gallery seeking to create its own film as a long term legacy of the exhibition. There was also a discussion of the feasibility and difficulties of extending opening hours of the exhibition and the problems which would have to be addressed if this were to be achieved.

There was a discussion with the Board of the likely impact of industrial action on 30 November; the Director said that it was hoped that it would be possible to keep the Leonardo exhibition open, and outlined contingency plans.

The Director reported on moves to relax environmental standards in museums, as recently reported in the press, and highlighted the special requirements for Old Master Paintings, which were in danger of being underplayed in the publicity for green initiatives of this kind.

Acquisitions

6. Information has been excluded under s 22, s 41 and s 43 FOI 2000.

Security

7. Information has been excluded under s 31 FOI 2000.

Report on a proposed research centre

8. The Deputy Director reminded the Board of current research initiatives, including the adoption by the Gallery of a new research theme, entitled ‘The Study of Venetian Art and its History’. She presented a report on plans to 2015 and  explained that it was intended that proposed new posts would all be supported by external funding, and that there was no intention to increase staffing costs as a result of any of these plans. Those coming in on new funded posts would work closely with the Gallery’s curatorial department.

The Board considered a paper dealing with space planning considerations in relation to the creation of a proposed research centre, and agreed that the option which focussed on space within the Wilkins building should be considered in more detail with a view to a full feasibility study being carried out and full costings being obtained. It was noted that the plans might create in the region of 15 additional office spaces, and any works to be carried out to the Library should be reversible, if it were ever wished to return that space to its original use as gallery space. It was intended that the proposal would be brought back to the Board in Spring 2012.

Exhibition report

9. The Board noted the exhibition report on Devotion by Design, Italian Altarpieces.

The Exhibition Curator reminded the Board that this was the Gallery’s third summer collection-based exhibition; she said that all the objectives set in connection with this exhibition had been met, including in particular the showcasing of new research recently published in the ‘National Gallery Catalogue of Paintings before 1400’. The exhibition had also created a legacy in the form of material on the Gallery’s website. The Exhibition Curator drew attention to the very successful design work and said that costs had been managed well.   

Report of Scientific consultative group meeting

10. The Board noted the report on the annual meeting of the Gallery’s Scientific consultative group, including the abstracts of presentations made at the meeting. The Chair of the Scientific consultative group drew attention in particular to the paper by Joseph Padfield dealing with research into the relative impact of LED lighting versus filtered natural daylight on Old Master paintings, which showed convincingly that LED lighting was the safer option. The desirability of trying to ensure a wider audience for the presentations to this group in future years was noted.

Minutes of and report from Audit and Finance Committees

11. The Minutes of the meeting of Audit and finance committees of 22 September 2011 were noted.

The Chairman of the Audit and Finance committees reported on matters discussed at the meetings earlier in the day. The Audit committee had considered proposed changes to the Gallery’s Glazing Risk management statement, which had been approved. The Finance committee had agreed that a notice on the Gallery’s website and in the Gallery’s legacy brochure should invite prospective testators to leave legacies to the National Gallery Trust, for its charitable purposes. The Board endorsed these decisions.

The Chairman of the Audit committee reported on a letter received by the Chairman from the Secretary of State in connection with management of financial risks, to which a response would be sent.

Quarterly management report to 30 September

12. The Board noted the quarterly management reports to 30 September 2011.

Appointments to the Board of AFNGL

13. The Chairman left the room for this item and took no part in the discussion or decision arising. The Board approved the re-appointment of the Chairman and Christopher Gibbs as Class A Directors of the American Friends of the National Gallery.

Minutes of and report of the Nominations Committee

14. The Board noted the minutes of the meetings of the Nominations committee on 22 September. The Chairman reported in connection with the current search for a new trustee that an advertisement was now running and that the committee would be able to make a fuller report on the outcome of the search in January.

Board dates 2012

15. The Board noted the dates of meetings for 2012.

Any other business

16. There being no other business the Chairman declared the meeting closed.

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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