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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - 17 September 2015

Minutes of the Board meeting held of Thursday 17 September 2015


Hannah Rothschild (in the Chair)  
Gautam Dalal
Professor Dexter Dalwood
Lady Heseltine
Sir Michael Hintze (items 1–10)
Professor Anya Hurlbert
Lisa Milroy
Charles Sebag-Montefiore
Caroline Thomson


Lance Batchelor
Lord King of Lothbury
John Nelson
John Singer 

In attendance

Dr Gabriele Finaldi - Director
Dr Susan Foister - Director of Public Engagement and Deputy Director
Chris Walker - Director of Finance and Operations
Kate Howe - Secretary to the Board and Legal Counsel
Larry Keith - Head of Conservation and Keeper (items 1–3)
Caroline Campbell - Curator of Italian Paintings before 1500 and Interim Head of Curatorial (items 1–3)
Matthias Wivel - Curator of 16th Century Italian Paintings (item 1)
Flaminia Rukavina - Patrick Lindsay Conservation Fellow (item 1)
RoseMarie Loft - Director of Change (items 2–9)
Louise Peckett - Head of Finance (items 7–9)
Mona Walsh - Head of Communications (item 10)
Steve Vandyke - Head of Buildings (items 11 and 12)

The Board met in closed session with the Director at the start of the meeting.

The Board welcomed the new Director, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, to his first meeting of the Board and welcomed Lisa Milroy to her first meeting of the Board in her capacity as Tate liaison Trustee. The Board congratulated Hannah Rothschild on taking the Chair at her first Board meeting.

1. Pictures for treatment

The Board saw in the conservation studio following completion of treatment The Head of Saint John the Baptist, Italian (NG1438). The Head of Conservation reminded the Board that this painting had not been cleaned since it was acquired in 1895. He told the Board that the treatment had involved not merely the removal of heavily discoloured varnish, but also the judicious reduction of previous retouchings. He said that at some point in its history the painting had been enlarged by the addition of wooden strips to the panel which had now been removed, returning the painting to its original size. The painting had been reframed in a frame created by the Gallery’s framing department. The Board approved the painting as ready to go back on display.

The Board saw and approved the treatment proposed for Flowers in a Glass Vase by Jacob van Walscapelle, (NG1002). The Board were told that this was a painting which had not been cleaned since its acquisition in 1876; following cleaning, it would be reframed in a newly acquired period frame appropriate to the painting.

2. Declarations of interest

3. Loans out

The Interim Head of Curatorial presented the loan paper. The Board approved all the proposed loans and changes of dates. The Board noted proposed loans from the Gallery’s history collection which were reported to them for information.

Caroline Thomson, in her capacity as a Trustee of the Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery Carlisle, thanked the Gallery for the decision taken at the July meeting (at which she had not been present) to lend to the Tullie House Museum.

4. Minutes of 16 July and 29 July and matters arising

The Board approved the minutes of 16 and 29 July subject to minor corrections and the Chair was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting.

There were no matters arising.

5. Director’s report

The Director’s report was noted.

The Director highlighted that during the forthcoming Goya: The Portraits exhibition, there would be a separate display in the Gallery’s Room 1, of the Portrait of Doña Isabel de Porcel. This was one of the most striking and recognisable portraits in the Gallery’s collection, but some scholars had cast doubt on its attribution as a work by Goya; the Room 1 display would present historical, biographical, and technical information on the painting, and would explain why it was not included in the main exhibition.

Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000.

The Director highlighted that the Gallery was now displaying, in Room 43, Blue Pacific by Sir Arthur Streeton which was on loan from a private collector. This was significant as being the first time the Gallery had displayed an Australian painting alongside the collection.

Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000. 

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

There was a discussion in relation to the visitor numbers to the recent Soundscapes exhibition and a question was raised by the Board in relation to the target audience for the exhibition. It was noted that a full report on the exhibition would come to the Board at a later meeting. The Chair also asked that a date be scheduled for a discussion with the Board of the new Director’s exhibition plans.

6. Security and VSS Update

The Director of Change presented an update to the Board on events and progress since signing of a partnering contract with Securitas on 11 August. She reported that the team which had been set up to manage the TUPE transfer (scheduled for 1 November) was meeting weekly and that within the next two weeks a detailed mobilisation document would have been prepared.

The Director of Change reported on the most recent meeting with PCS in relation to the current industrial dispute. Information has been excluded under s 36 FOI 2000.

Information has been excluded under s 36 FOI 2000.

Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000.

7. Finance report to 31 July

The Board noted the finance report to 31 July. The Head of Finance said that the Gallery was still expecting to break even at the end of the financial year; she highlighted however that the Gallery had already utilised 80% of its contingency provision for the year.

8. Financial planning

The Director of Finance and Operations presented a proposed approach to possible cuts to grant in aid which might emerge from the 2015 Spending Review currently in progress, focussing on possible cuts to resource grant in aid of 25% pa over the period to 2020/21 combined with a zero-based approach to capital grant in aid. He highlighted that cuts at this level, combined with a measure of investment in new Gallery activities (including the proposed New Digital Services programme), would give rise to a need to generate new income and/or realise efficiencies of £6m pa by 2020/21. He outlined the proposed areas of focus and targets for increased income and efficiencies, emphasising the need for a concerted Gallery-wide approach. More detailed plans would be developed as part of the corporate planning process.

The Board endorsed the proposed approach, and asked to see more detailed plans in due course.

9. Grant applications to the AFNGL

The Board approved the making of proposed grant applications to the AFNGL.

10. New Digital Services Strategy and business case

The Head of Communications presented a proposed New Digital Services strategy to the Board.

She reminded the Board of the Gallery’s history of innovation (for example it had been one of the first galleries to digitise its collection) but said that the Gallery now had some catching up to do in the area of digital strategy and programming. She outlined the ambitions and expected outcomes (both for the Gallery and its visitors) of the proposed strategy; she summarised the four elements of the proposed programme required to deliver the strategy; she outlined the proposed investment in staff, hardware, and software required to deliver the programme, and the forecast increases in revenue which would result.

Information has been excluded under s 36 FOI 2000.

The Board endorsed the proposed direction of travel, approved the proposed investment in the current financial year and agreed that an application for funding to meet the investment in the current year could be made to the National Gallery Trust. The Board asked that they should be provided with more detailed proposals before approving investment for future years.

11. East Wing building plans

The Head of Buildings presented to the Board proposals for the creation of open floor office space within the north-east ground floor of the Wilkins building. He outlined for the Board the current underutilisation of this space, and the potential to create a high quality accommodation hub. It was noted that, if the scheme were to proceed, Gallery staff who were currently accommodated in office space in St Vincent House could be relocated to the Wilkins building, and that a significant saving in rental payments would result. The Head of Buildings outlined possible costs and timings of the proposed scheme based on a preliminary viability study which had been carried out.

The Board approved the commissioning of an enhanced viability study to establish accurately the extent of the new office space which could be created and the costs of creating such space.

12. Discussions with NPG re East Wing

The Board noted the report which was for information.

13. Exhibition report, Inventing Impressionism

The Board noted the exhibition report.

14. Committees of the Board

The Board noted the minutes of the meeting of the Finance Committee of 27 July.

The Chair reported on a meeting of the Nominations Committee on 8 September. She reminded the Board that there was one current vacancy on the Board and that two further vacancies would arise in March 2016 when Lady Heseltine and Sir Michael Hintze would complete their second terms of office. She reported on the recommendations of the Nominations Committee in relation to skills to be sought and the Board endorsed the recommended approach.

In the absence of the Chair of the Development Committee there was no report from the Committee.

15. Any other business

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