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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - 10 November 2016

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 10 November 2016


Hannah Rothschild (in the Chair)   
Lance Batchelor
Gautam Dalal
Professor Dexter Dalwood
Katrin Henkel
Professor Anya Hurlbert
Rosemary Leith
John Nelson (not for items 1–3)
Charles Sebag-Montefiore
John Singer


Lord King of Lothbury
Lisa Milroy

In attendance

Dr Gabriele Finaldi - Director
Dr Susan Foister - Director of Public Engagement and Deputy Director (not for items 12 or 13)
Larry Keith - Head of Conservation, Keeper, and Acting Director of Collections (not for items 12 or 13)    
Chris Walker - Director of Finance and Operations (not for items 12 or 13)
Kate Howe - Secretary to the Board and Legal Counsel
Dr Caroline Campbell - The Jacob Rothschild Head of the Curatorial Department (items 1–3)
Dr Francesca Whitlum-Cooper Myojin-Nadar Curatorial Assistant (item 1)
Paul Ackroyd - Restorer (item 1)
RoseMarie Loft - Head of HR (item 6)
Mona Walsh - Head of Communications (item 7)
Louise Peckett - Head of Finance (items 8 and 9)
Deborah Myers - Head of Development (items 8 and 9)

1. Pictures for treatment

1.1. The Board were shown, following completion of treatment, Maternal Affection by Louis Jean François Lagrenée (NG6663), which they approved as ready to go on display. The Acting Director of Collections reminded the Board that this painting was a gift from the estate of the late Brian Sewell; he said the painting would be hung in Room 33 where it would complement the Gallery’s small but strong French holdings. 

1.2. The Board were shown for information in the course of treatment 'Christ between Saints Paul and Peter' by Pietro Lorenzetti (M1455) belonging to the Ferens Art Gallery.

1.3. The Board were also shown in the course of treatment The Rape of the Sabine Women by Peter Paul Rubens (NG38). The Board were informed that this painting had last been cleaned during World War II while the collection was stored for safety in the disused Manod slate quarry in Wales. After that cleaning the restorer had applied a wax polish to the painting, which had, over the succeeding decades, absorbed a significant amount of dirt; the current cleaning was mostly resulting in a removal of that wax polish. The painting itself was in wonderful condition. The Director noted that the Gallery had a large collection of paintings by Rubens, and this was not one of the most famous of those works, but was one of the most beautiful.

2. Declarations of interest

There were no declarations of interest.

3. Loans out

3.1. The Jacob Rothschild Head of the Curatorial Department presented the Loans out paper, with one Addendum; she drew attention to risk assessments in respect of two of the proposed loans.

3.2. The Board approved all the loans proposed in the Loans paper and Addendum, including the loan of three works to the Gallery’s proposed Masterpiece Tour in 2018–2020, when these works would tour to three venues across the UK; it was noted that the precise venues were yet to be determined.

3.3. The Board asked whether it would be possible when they were considering loans for approval to have a brief summary of all works promised for loan in the next 12 to 18 months. The Board also asked whether there was a trend towards more loans out than in the past. The Chair suggested that a time slot should be booked for the Board to discuss loans out in more detail. 

4. Minutes of 22 September and matters arising

4.1.The Board approved the minutes of 22 September and the Chair was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting.

4.2. In relation to matters arising:-

4.2.1. The Director updated the Board in relation to the proposed acquisition of 'Portrait of a Young Man with a Red Cap' by Pontormo. He reminded the Board that the Gallery had had until 22 October in which to raise the funding of just over £30.6m required in order to be able to make an offer to purchase the work at the price set by the Secretary of State. He was delighted to report that the Gallery had succeeded in raising the funds and making the offer by the deadline. Information has been excluded under s 36 and s 43 FOI 2000.

4.2.2 The Secretary to the Board and Legal Counsel updated the Board in relation to the claim made against the Gallery in New York in relation to the 'Portrait of Greta Moll' by Matisse. Information has been excluded under s 36, s 42, and s 43 FOI 2000.

4.2.3. The Director of Finance and Operations provided an update on the visitor and security-related services contract. Information has been excluded under s 36 and s 43 FOI 2000.

5. Director’s report, events, and visitor numbers

5.1. The Director’s written report was noted.

5.2. The Director reported on a re-hang of Room 32 and the North Galleries.

 5.3. He also reported on the progress with the reframing of Sebastiano’s The Raising of Lazarus (NG1) in preparation for the Michelangelo & Sebastiano exhibition which would be shown in the North Galleries from March to June 2017.

 5.4. He drew to the attention of the Board the loan to the Gallery of Ferdinand Bol’s Portrait of Boy aged 8, which was now hanging in Room 22.

5.5. He reported to the Board on the international colloquium held in relation to the Beyond Caravaggio exhibition which had been attended by some forty scholars, and also reported that this would be followed on 17–18 November by a full-scale international academic conference.

5.6. He drew the attention of the Board to the public event held in Trafalgar Square on the evening of 28 October, when a group named Quadri Plastici from the town of Avigliano in Italy had created living representations of two of the great works in the 'Beyond Caravaggio' exhibition; the tradition of creating these ‘living paintings’ had existed in Avigliano for decades, and the event in Trafalgar Square had made a great impact.

5.7. The Director reminded the Board that when he had joined the Gallery he had been committed to curating two exhibitions in Spain, one at the Hospital de Los Venerables in Seville, and the other an exhibition of Ribera drawings at the Prado, both of which were opening this month.

5.8. The Director reported on general visitor numbers and on attendance at the 'Beyond Caravaggio' exhibition; the latter was currently attracting very good visitor numbers, and the estimate for the run had been revised.

5.9. In relation to the decision of the examination board AQA to cease to provide an A level in Art History, the Director reported that he was optimistic, following lobbying from the Association of Art Historians with support from the National Gallery and other museums and galleries, that another exam board might take up the qualification.

5.10. The Director said that he would be updating the Board on strategic priorities in January 2017.

6. Employment mode

6.1. The Head of HR presented her paper in relation to this matter. She reminded the Board that the review of the Gallery’s employment model had been underway for some time and that the focus had been on four key areas, namely: policies and procedures; the employment contract; training and development; and pay and reward.

6.2. In relation to policies and procedures, she said that the focus of the review had been on producing a new set of policies and procedures which supported both employees and managers; the consultation process had included both unions and staff.

6.3. In relation to the revised employment contract, the model had been shared with joint trade unions and been welcomed.

6.4. Turning to pay and reward, she reported on the introduction of a scheme of flexible benefits, which would come into force from April 2017, and which appeared to be strongly welcomed by staff.

6.5. She reported on the outcome of a benchmarking exercise in relation to pay, and presented a number of recommendations arising out of that benchmarking exercise. Information has been excluded under s 36 FOI 2000.

6.6.– 6.8. Information has been excluded under s 36 FOI 2000.

 7. Wayfinding

7.1. The Head of Communications introduced this item and the Board received a presentation from Applied Wayfinding, who had been commissioned by the Gallery to advise on ways of improving wayfinding within the Gallery.

7.2. The Board were briefed on current constraints on good wayfinding within the Gallery; they heard that improvements could be made by communicating with visitors visually, promoting natural wayfinding, and adopting a global approach.

7.3. Phase 1 changes, proposed to be implemented by March 2017, were outlined for the Board and the Board endorsed these proposals.

7.4. Future opportunities were outlined to the Board; although it was noted that these were not for present decision or approval. The opportunities for possible future consideration included possible changes to external signage, additional banners on the portico entrance, use of images in blind windows, [information has been excluded under s 36 FOI 2000] and the possible movement of Information Desks in the Wilkins Building to Central Hall. In this latter connection, one member of the Board suggested instead much greater use of digital engagement in the current Wilkins Building information area.

7.5. The Director reported to the Board that the Gallery would be running another entrances trial during late November and early December, to build on the information generated by the first trial.

8. Finance Report

8.1. The Board noted the finance report to 30 September which was presented by the Head of Finance.

8.2. The Head of Development gave an update in relation to the performance of the Development Department in the year to date and the expected year-end out-turn against target. She drew to the attention of the Board the fact that the figures they were seeing included not only development income invoiced and received but also income pledged. With several months of the year yet to go, she highlighted that 98% of target had been achieved and that the introduction of new donation boxes had resulted in an increase in donation income.

8.3. The Board raised the question of where the greatest potential for growth in development income lay, and what investment would be needed to achieve growth. Information has been excluded under s 36 and s 43 FOI 2000.

8.4.–8.6. Information has been excluded under s 36 and s 43 FOI 2000.

8.7. The Board welcomed the report on development income and asked that at future meetings it should be expanded to show a comparison with the previous year’s income for the same period, and budget and actual figures  for the year to date.

9. Grant applications to the AFNGL

9.1. The Board approved the proposed grant applications to the AFNGL.

10. Appointment of AFNGL Directors

10.1. The Board approved the reappointment of Mark Getty KBE, Hannah Rothschild, and Lord King of Lothbury as Class A Directors of the American Friends of the National Gallery, London Inc.

11. Committees of the Board

11.1. The Board noted the Minutes of the meeting of the Governance Committee on 22 September.

11.2. The Board noted the Minutes of the meeting of the Finance Committee on 12 September. The Chair of the Audit and Finance Committees reported that Sir Colin Southgate was retiring as a member of both Committees after many long years of service to the Gallery, and the Board expressed their warm appreciation for all he had contributed. The Board approved the appointment of Charles Sebag-Montefiore as a member of the Audit and Finance Committees. The Chair of the Finance Committee said that the Committee had, earlier in the day, taken a first high-level look at draft figures for the corporate plan for the next three years, and said that, based on those figures, the next two years would present a financial challenge, which would be considered in more detail at the next meeting.

11.3. The Chair of the Development Committee reported in relation to corporate sponsorship and membership matters. It was agreed that consideration should be given to bringing another Board member onto that Committee.

11.4. The Chair of the Nominations Committee reported that an advertisement had now been placed on the Public Appointments website and the Gallery’s own website for two new Trustees; the process was being managed by DCMS.

12. Board effectiveness survey

12.1. The Chair of the Governance Committee presented the summary of responses to the Board effectiveness survey, and the recommendations made by the Governance Committee arising out of those responses. The Board approved the recommendations made.

13. Any other business

13.1. There was a brief discussion concerning business continuity in the wake of possible serious incidents at the Gallery.

13.2. There being no other business, the Chair declared the meeting closed.

13.3. Following the formal part of the meeting, and in the absence of the Chair, Director, and staff, the Deputy Chairman reported to the Board on the conclusions arising from the annual appraisal of the Chair which he had conducted, and in the course of which he had spoken individually to all Board members.