Minutes of the Board of Trustees - 16 July 2015

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 16 July 2015


Mark Getty (in the Chair)  
Lance Batchelor
Gautam Dalal
Professor Dexter Dalwood
Lady Heseltine
Sir Michael Hintze
Professor Anya Hurlbert
Lord King of Lothbury
John Nelson
Hannah Rothschild
Charles Sebag-Montefiore
Monisha Shah
John Singer


Caroline Thomson

In attendance

Dr Nicholas Penny - 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)
Caroline Campbell - Curator of Italian Paintings before 1500 and Interim Head of Curatorial (items 1-4)
Letizia Treves - Curator of Italian and Spanish Paintings 1600-1800 (item 1)
Betsy Wieseman - Curator of Dutch and Flemish Paintings (item 1)
Jill Dunkerton - Restorer (item 1)
Paul Ackroyd - Restorer (item 1)
Morwenna Blewett - Assistant Restorer (item 1)             
RoseMarie Loft - Director of Change (items 6-9)
Louise Peckett - Head of Finance (items 7-8)
Tad Glabus - Internal Auditor (items 7-8)
Andy Baxter - Operations Manager (item 9)

The Board met in closed session at the start of the meeting. Information has been excluded under s 36 FOI 2000.

The Chairman reminded the Board that this was the last regular board meeting which Monisha Shah would attend since her term of office came to an end on 31 July; he thanked her warmly for her commitment to the Gallery during her time as a Trustee. Hannah Rothschild reminded the Board that this would also be the last regular board meeting of the Chairman, who would retire from the Board on 10 August and the Board expressed their immense gratitude for everything he had done for the Gallery in the course of his Chairmanship.

1. Pictures for treatment

The Board saw in the conservation studio following completion of treatment The Tower of Babel by Leandro Bassano (NG60), The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple by Guercino (NG6646) and Peasants with Cattle fording a Stream by Adriaen van de Velde (NG868) and approved them all as ready to go back on display.

The Head of Conservation said that the cleaning, restoration and structural work to the canvas of NG60 (which had taken between 18 months and two years) had been very successful. The painting had been reframed in a replica of a 16th-century created by the Head of Framing. It was intended that the painting should hang in Room 9 with works by Jacopo Bassano.

In relation to NG868, the Board were reminded by the Head of Conservation that this work had not previously been cleaned for over 100 years. He pointed out that it had been reframed very effectively in a 17th-century frame.

The Board saw and approved the treatment proposed for Portrait of a Lady, Italian, Neapolitan (NG6254) and Portrait of a Girl by Workshop of Domenico Ghirlandaio (NG1230). It was noted that consideration was being given to the attribution of both these paintings.

The Board also saw in the course of treatment The Assassination of Saint Peter Martyr by Giovanni Bellini (NG812) and Adoration of the Shepherds, Italian (NG1887). The Director told the Board that the restoration work in relation to the Bellini was being funded by the JP Getty Trust. Jill Dunkerton, the Restorer working on this painting, explained to the Board the process she was going through in relation to this painting. She drew to the attention of the Board losses to the paint which had probably occurred in the 17th and 18th centuries, due to poor quality of the panel itself and highlighted changes and additions which had been made to the painting in the 19th century. It was confirmed to the Board that every stage of the restoration was being documented. The Board asked if there was any possibility of filming some sessions of this kind of major restoration project.

The Board also saw Scenes from the Lives of the Virgin and other Saints by Giovanni da Rimini (NG6656) following acquisition. The Board were reminded that although the painting would be going out on long term loan, it would be returning to the Gallery for public display for periods of up to three months once every three years, and the first period of return was proposed to be in 2017.

2. Declarations of interest

The Director declared that his brother was a Trustee of one of the paintings which would be discussed under item 4.

3. Loans out

The Interim Head of Curatorial presented the loan paper and an addendum to that paper which was tabled to the meeting. The Board noted a risk assessment in relation to the proposed loan of NG5982. The Board approved all the proposed loans and changes of dates.

4. Acquisitions and export issues

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

5. Minutes of 7 May and matters arising

The Board approved the minutes of 7 May subject some amendments and the Chairman was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting.

There were no matters arising.

6. Director’s report

The Director’s report was noted.

He updated the Board on changes to the portico entrance and Sainsbury Wing foyer which he said were working well.

He informed the Board that he had been on the panel for recent interviews for the directors of Italy’s state museums.

He reported to the Board in relation to recent FOI requests received in relation to the partnering process and the manner in which these were being dealt with; the Board were reminded of the Gallery’s process for dealing with internal reviews in the event that those requesting information were unhappy with the way in which their request had been dealt with.

7. Annual accounts, Report of the Audit committee and risk register

The Board noted the annual accounts, the annual report of the Audit committee, the Annual report of the Health and Safety Adviser, the Annual Fire Risk Assessment Review and Annual Security report. The Head of Finance confirmed that the annual accounts had been laid before Parliament on 14 July. The Chairman of the Audit Committee confirmed that the National Audit Office had been very satisfied with the quality of the work carried out by the Gallery’s Finance Department.

The Board considered the risk register. The Chair of the Audit committee said that historically the Gallery had been a cost led organisation so that, in financial terms, the management and control of expenditure was the primary historic risk.

It was reported that the Internal Auditor had been asked to prepare an audit report on the partnering process to give assurance that the process had been properly conducted and was robust and fair and the report had given the highest level of assurance.

8. Finance report

The Board noted the management report to 31 May. The Director of Finance and Operations reported to the Board on recent discussions with Treasury in relation to the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) and the possible impact on the Gallery’s grant in aid. He reported that Treasury was seeking to find savings of £20bn from departments over the next four years, that the commitments to protect defence spending would increase the pressure on other departments, and that, consequently, the Gallery had been told that unprotected departments might be subjected to cuts of 30% or more over the period. In terms of the timetable for next steps, he said that Treasury would be issuing official CSR process guidelines during July; that Departments would prepare bids during August and would negotiate with Treasury during September and October and that it was likely that an announcement of the settlement would be made in November. The Gallery had been asked to make submissions in relation to the likely impact of cuts of the scale being discussed. Information has been excluded under s 36 and s 43 FOI 2000. The Board asked for an update on 29 July.

9. Security and VSS Update

The Board noted PCS’ alternative plan to the Gallery’s proposals for partnering, the Gallery’s response to that plan, and PCS comments on the Gallery’s response.

It was confirmed that all was on track for the Board to take final decisions on 29 July and the Board were reminded of the likely timetable for signing of a contract with a preferred bidder if a decision were taken on 29 July to go ahead and of the timetable thereafter.


Information has been excluded under s 42 FOI 2000.

11. Follow-up to Board strategy weekend

The Board noted the summary of discussions at the Board strategy weekend.

12. Committees of the Board

a. Minutes of the Audit and Finance Committee of 25 June
The Board noted the minutes of the Audit and Finance Committees of 25 June.

b. Minutes of the Governance Committee of 2 June
The Board noted the minutes of the Governance Committee of 2 June.

c. Report from the Chair of the Development Committee
The Chairman of the Development committee drew attention to the success in raising sponsorship for the 'Soundscapes' exhibition and to the enthusiasm of the sponsors for the exhibition at a private preview which they had enjoyed. He drew attention to other fundraising successes.

13. Appointments to Nominations, Audit, and Finance committees

The Board approved the appointment of Dexter Dalwood and Anya Hurlbert as members of the Nominations Committee with effect from 11 August, in place of Mark Getty, Anne Heseltine, and Caroline Thomson who would all retire from the Committee on that date. The Board endorsed the appointment of Hannah Rothschild as an additional member of the Audit and Finance Committees with effect from 5 February 2015.

14. Board effectiveness survey

The Board were reminded to complete and submit their Board effectiveness surveys by end of July.

15. Board dates 2016

The Board noted board dates for 2016

16. Any other business

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