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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - 14 January 2016

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 14 January 2016


Hannah Rothschild (in the Chair)
Lance Batchelor
Gautam Dalal
Professor Dexter Dalwood
Lady Heseltine
Sir Michael Hintze
Professor Anya Hurlbert
Lisa Milroy
John Nelson
Charles Sebag-Montefiore
John Singer
Caroline Thomson


Lord King of Lothbury  

In attendance

Dr Gabriele Finaldi - Director
Dr Susan Foister - Director of Public Engagement and Deputy Director
Dr Ashok Roy - Director of Collections
Chris Walker - Director of Finance and Operations
Kate Howe - Secretary to the Board and Legal Counsel
Larry Keith - Head of Conservation and Keeper (items 1 -4)
Chris Riopelle - Curator of (item 1)
Paul Ackroyd - Restorer (item 1)
Lynne Harrison - Restorer (item 1)
Britta New - Assistant Restorer (item1)
RoseMarie Loft - Director of Change (items 2-15)
Gill Hart - Head of Education (item 8)
Julie Molloy - Managing Director of NGC (item 9)
Louise Peckett - Head of Finance (items 10-11)
Jane Knowles - Head of Exhibitions (item 12)

The Board met in closed session with the Director and without staff before the start of the meeting.

At the start of the meeting, the Chair said she was very pleased to announce that John Singer and Charles Sebag-Montefiore had been reappointed by the Prime Minister to serve second terms as members of the Board. She reminded the Board that this was, sadly, the last Board meeting of Lady Heseltine, and thanked her warmly on behalf of the Board for all she had done for the Gallery.

The Chair said she was delighted to inform the Board that Her Majesty the Queen had awarded an Honorary Knighthood to Mark Getty in recognition of his services to philanthropy and the arts in the United Kingdom, and in particular his extraordinary contribution as Trustee, Chair, and supporter of the National Gallery over many years. She was also very pleased to inform the Board that the Director had in December been presented by their Royal Highnesses the King and Queen of Spain with the Gold Medal in the Fine Arts, in recognition of his significant contribution to art and culture in Spain.

Finally, the Chair reminded the Board that this was the last meeting which would be attended by Dr Ashok Roy, the Director of Collections, who was retiring from the Gallery after 39 years of service. She thanked him on the Board’s behalf for his outstanding contribution to the work of the Gallery, and in particular to the reputation of the Gallery’s Scientific Department and its world renowned research work. She was pleased to announce that Larry Keith had been appointed as Acting Director of Collections.

1. Pictures for treatment

1.1. The Board saw in the conservation studio following completion of treatment The Birth of Venus by Rubens (NG1195) and Flowers in a Glass Vase by Walscapelle (NG1002) and approved them both as ready to go back on display. In relation to the former, the Board were reminded that the funding of the restoration work had been the subject of a very successful public appeal to which some 300 donors had contributed. In relation to the latter, the Board were told that the painting would be displayed in the forthcoming Dutch Flowers exhibition in Room 1 of the Gallery in April and would thereafter generally hang on the main floor. It was drawn to the attention of the Board that the painting had been re-framed in a mid-17th-century frame which had been acquired by the Gallery and which was highly appropriate to the painting.

1.2. The Board saw in the course of treatment The Virgin and Child with Saints George, James the Greater and a Donor by Giovanni Martini da Udine (NG778). The structural work which had been carried out to the damaged panels on which the work was painted was explained to the Board who were told that research by the Getty Panel Initiative had informed much of the work to date, and that this had taken several years. Treatment to the surface of the painting was now ready to start, and this could take a further 18 months. In response to a question from the Board, it was confirmed that it was hoped to publish details of the treatment in due course in the Gallery’s Technical Bulletin.

2. Declarations of interest

There were no declarations of interest.

3. Acquisitions 

3.1. The Board saw the recently acquired Road in the Village of Baldersbrønde (Winters Day) by Laurits Andersen Ring (NG6658).

3.2. The Board were shown Man on a Ladder by Luca Signorelli (L1172) which had been acquired for the nation in 2014 under the Acceptance in Lieu scheme  subject to the request that it be allocated to the Gallery. The Board were told that the painting had been placed in the temporary custody of the Gallery pending solicitation of bids for permanent allocation of the painting. The Board considered the formal acquisition report. They heard from the Director that although the Gallery had 8 paintings by Signorelli in the collection, this work was a particularly fine example of his work from a later period than those currently in the collection. The Board agreed that the Gallery should make a request for permanent allocation of the painting to the Gallery and that if that request were successful, the painting should be acquired as an addition to the collection.

3.3. Information has been excluded under s22 FOI 2000

4. Loans out

4.1. The Board approved all the proposed loans out.

5. Minutes of 26 November and matters arising

5.1. The Board approved the minutes of 26 November subject to one amendment and the Chair was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting.

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

6.1. The Director’s report was noted. 

6.2. The Director informed the Board that Caroline Campbell had been appointed permanently to the post of Head of Curatorial.

6.3. He presented to the Board information about international loans made by the Gallery in the period April 2014 to April 2016, showing the geographical area and range of institutions to which such loans had been made.

6.4. He reported to the Board on six important temporary loans to the collection which had been made by the Ferens Art Gallery, Hull. The works would remain on loan to the Gallery while the Ferens Art Gallery was closed for refurbishment in preparation for Hull’s year as European City of Culture, in 2017.

6.5. He reported on visitor numbers during 2015 compared with 2014 and it was noted that the reduction in numbers during the year was largely due to the now resolved industrial action.

6.6. He briefed the Board on recent press interest in the paintings forming the Hugh Lane bequest. He reminded the Board that the paintings belonged to the National Gallery but that display was shared with the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art Dublin, under an amicable arrangement entered into in 1979, and of the reasons behind that arrangement.

6.7. He drew to the attention of the Board a number of articles pertaining to the Gallery in the most recent edition of the Burlington magazine.

7. Proposal for a new employment model

7.1. The Director of Change delivered her presentation to the Board. She said that the purpose of the presentation was to brief the Board on the shape, size, and profile of the Gallery’s staff following the partnering arrangement entered into in 2015; to propose a way forward for establishing a new employment model and to highlight the Gallery’s aspirations for that model.

7.2. The Director of Change confirmed to the Board that immediately following the transfer of staff to Securitas, the Gallery had 202 employees, equivalent to 184 full time posts; of these some 71% were women.

7.3-7.9. Information has been excluded under s 36 FOI 2000.

7.10. The Board endorsed the direction of travel, it was confirmed that the Board would have the opportunity to sign off on formal proposals before consultation with staff began.

8. Update on Education strategy

8.1. The Head of Education presented an update on the Education strategy which had last been brought to the Board a year ago. She reminded the Board of the overarching ambition driving the strategy and three structural objectives underpinning that ambition. One of these objectives was to become a key player in relation to advocacy of the importance of art and design and art history in education; in this connection, she was pleased to inform the Board that AQA (the largest provider of GCSEs and A levels in the UK) had invited the Gallery to advise on the new specification for A level history of art to be taught in 2017.

8.2. She briefed the board on the number of participants in facilitated schools visits, free adult learning events, family events and teachers' Continuing Professional Development events in 2014 and 2015; she said that industrial action in 2015 had led to a reduction in facilitated schools visits, but these were fully booked again from March 2016. The big success story of 2015 had been the increase in the number of participants in family events, which had risen from 12,000 to 17,000, partly as a result of the increase from 3 to 5 days of provision per week.

8.3. She highlighted for the Board key achievements of the Early Years and Families Programme, the Schools and Teachers Programme, the Adults Programme and the Young People’s Programme. In relation to the latter, she reminded the Board that a year ago the Gallery had no programme, but with the appointment of a Young Person’s programmer in September 2015, the Gallery was now preparing a 3 year strategy in relation to this area of activity.

8.4. She briefed the Board on future actions and how success would be measured and highlighted a consultation with Teachers, now underway and running until April; she also highlighted other priorities for 2016.

8.5. The Board strongly welcomed the presentation and made a number of observations:

  • 8.5.1. The Gallery should seek to fundraise in support of educational programmes wherever possible; in this connection, the Board said that they would be interested in seeing more information about the costs of programmes, and the extent to which external funding had been raised for those programmes.
  • 8.5.2. The Gallery might consider, when sending out paintings on loan to regional institutions, whether those loans could be supported by an associated educational programme.
  • 8.5.3. The Board encouraged the use of social media to publicise the exciting work being done within the Education department.

9. National Gallery Company (NGC) plans for retail and catering spaces

9.1. The Managing Director of the National Gallery Company presented to the board some indicative illustrations of proposed changes to catering and retail spaces within the Gallery.

9.2-9.3. Information has been excluded under s 36 and s 43 FOI 2000.

9.4. The Board endorsed the proposals.

10. Finance report to 30 November

10.1 The Board noted the Finance report to 30 November.

10.2. The Head of Finance updated the Board on use of contingency since the last finance report; on areas of underspend and of risk areas. Information has been excluded under s 36 and s 43 FOI 2000. 

10.3. The Board requested that they receive a more detailed report on membership at their March meeting.

11. Grant applications to the National Gallery Trust (NGT)

11.1. The Board approved all proposed grant applications to the National Gallery Trust.

12. Exhibition report, 'Soundscapes'

12.1. The Head of Exhibitions presented her report on the Soundscapes exhibition from Summer 2015. She emphasised that this had been an innovative exhibition for the Gallery; some critics had not received it well, but it was interesting to note that in some cases this was not as a result of any objection to the exhibition itself, but reflected the fact that they said it was not the kind of exhibition they expected to see at the National Gallery.

12.2. She said that the exhibition had attracted the highest ever percentage of first time visitors and highest ever proportion of visitors under 55; visitors had spent an average of 87 minutes in the exhibition, which was remarkable for an exhibition which included only 6 paintings.

12.3. The exhibition had created a legacy of new audience and new supporters for the Gallery and had also created new media relationships.

12.4. The Board welcomed the report, and the Chair of the Development Committee asked that the report be shared with the Development Committee.

13. Committees of the Board

13.1. The Chair of the Development Committee reported on performance of the Development department against target in the year to date. 
Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000.

13.2. The Chair updated the Board on the current search for two new Trustees; interviews were expected to take place in February.

13.3. The Board noted the minutes of the Audit and Finance Committees of 26 November. The Chair of the Finance committee confirmed that at the next meeting the committee would be considering the proposed corporate plan for 2016-17. Information has been excluded under s31 FOI 2000.

14. Freedom of Information: 11th annual report

14.1. The Board noted the annual Freedom of Information report.

15. Any other business

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