Minutes of the Board of Trustees - 19 May 2016

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 19 May 2016

Present

Hannah Rothschild (in the Chair)
Lance Batchelor
Gautam Dalal (not for item 1)
Professor Dexter Dalwood
Katrin Henkel
Professor Anya Hurlbert
Rosemary Leith
Lord King of Lothbury
Lisa Milroy
John Nelson (for items 1-9)
Charles Sebag-Montefiore
John Singer​

Apologies

Caroline Thomson

In attendance

Dr Gabriele Finaldi - Director
Dr Susan Foister - Director of Public Engagement and Deputy Director
Larry Keith - Head of Conservation, Keeper and Acting Director of Collections     
Chris Walker - Director of Finance and Operations
Kate Howe - Secretary to the Board and Legal Counsel
Caroline Campbell - The Jacob Rothschild Head of the Curatorial Department (items 1-3)
Letizia Treves - Curator of Italian and Spanish Paintings 1600-1800 (item 1)
Betsy Wieseman - Curator of Dutch and Flemish Paintings (item 1)
Deborah Myers - Head of Development (item 8)
Julie Molloy - Managing Director of NGC (item 9)
Louise Peckett - Head of Finance (item 10)

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

1. Pictures for treatment

1.1. The Board were shown The Toilet of Venus by Studio of Guido Reni (NG90) which the Acting Director of  Collections said had last been cleaned in 1955. There was a discussion of the provenance of this painting which the Board were told had been acquired by George I in 1723 and had been given to the Gallery in 1836 by William IV. The Board approved the treatment proposed for this painting.

1.2. The Board were also shown The Outskirts of a Village, with a Horseman by Isack van Ostade (NG847) which the Acting Director of Collections said had not been treated since 1883, shortly after its acquisition by the Gallery. The Board approved the treatment proposed for this painting.

1.3. The Board saw in the course of treatment The Adoration of the Shepherds by Giovanni Battista Spinelli (NG1157).

1.4. The Board were shown for information before treatment 'A Concert with Three Figures' by Valentin de Boulogne (X8836) which they were told was being lent to the Gallery for inclusion in its forthcoming Caravaggio exhibition, and was being cleaned prior to the exhibition. The Curator of Italian and Spanish Paintings 1600-1800 said that the Gallery was delighted not only that the painting was being lent to the exhibition, but also that the Gallery had the opportunity to study it in the course of treatment, since this would contribute greatly to the Gallery’s understanding of the artist.

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. She presented to the Board a risk assessment in relation to one proposed loan out. Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000.

3.2. The Board approved all the loans proposed in the Loans paper.

4. Minutes of 17 March and matters arising

4.1. The Board approved the minutes of 17 March subject to minor amendments and the Chair was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting.

4.2. Under matters arising :-

  • 4.2.1. Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000
  • 4.2.2. Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000

5. Director’s report, events and visitor numbers

5.1. The Director’s report was noted

5.2. The Director updated the Board on a possible acquisition. Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000.

5.3. The Director updated the Board with the most recent visitor numbers to Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art which was shortly due to close, and said that he expected that final visitor numbers would be close to those projected at the start of the exhibition.

5.4. In relation to the Dutch Flowers exhibition, on display in Room 1, he drew to the Board’s attention a discussion which would take place on 13 July between the Curator of Dutch and Flemish Paintings, and Professor Brian Capstick. Information has been redacted under s 43 FOI 2000.

5.5. In relation to the exhibition of George Shaw: My Back to Nature, the Director drew attention to the very positive press reception of this exhibition which he said was expected to go on tour once it closed at the Gallery. Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000.

5.6. In relation to national programmes, the Director told the Board that the touring exhibition of Rembrandt’s Self Portrait at the Age of 63 (NG221) would be opening the following day in Bristol, and he and the Deputy Director would both be present at the opening.

5.7. In relation to visitor numbers, the Director highlighted that numbers from the beginning of the year were even higher than for corresponding months in 2014, which had hitherto been the Gallery’s record year of attendance.

6. Proposed acquisition

The Board noted the paper in relation to the proposed acquisition of Oetzthal by Vilhelm Petersen which they had been shown in the conservation studio at the start of the meeting. The Board were told that the painting was being offered to the Gallery by Professor Peter Hecht  as a gift in memory of Erika Langmuir, a former Head  of Education at the Gallery, who had died in December 2015. The Jacob Rothschild Head of the Curatorial Department said that Vilhlem Petersen was an artist from the last generation of the so-called Danish Golden Age and that this particular work could be dated precisely to the week in September 1850 when it was painted.

The Board expressed their gratitude for the generous offer of this painting as a gift to the Gallery and approved its acquisition as an addition to the collection.

7. Loan to the Collection

The Board noted the paper in relation to Chalets at Rigi by Alexandre Calame, which they were shown in the conservation studio at the start of the meeting, and were told that the painting had been offered to the American Friends of the National Gallery (“AFNGL”) as a gift in honour of Sir Nicholas Penny. The Board were told that Alexandre Calame was the most important Swiss landscape painter of the 19th century and this work had been on loan to the Gallery since 2011. The Board authorised the Director to recommend to the AFNGL the acceptance of the proposed gift.

8. Update on progress and plans in Development

The Head of Development presented her update on progress and plans in the Development department and, in particular, performance against targets in the year to 31 March 2016 and plans for the year to 31 March 2017. Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000.

9. Update on Membership

9.1. The Director of Public Engagement and the Managing Director of National Gallery Company presented an update on the Gallery’s Membership scheme. The Board were reminded that the scheme had been launched in September 2014, in the context of a new Customer Relationship Strategy. The Board were reminded of the original ambitions of the scheme, and received a report on the outturn at the end of first full year. The Director of Public Engagement highlighted where targets had been met and where they had not, and reported on actions which had been identified to improve the current take-up of membership. Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000.

10. Finance report to 31 March 

10.1. The Board noted the finance report to 31 March which was presented by the Head of Finance. She said that this report showed, in draft form, the projected outcome for the year end. She highlighted for the Board key changes to the forecast outcome as previously reported to the Board.

10.2. The Chair of the Audit and Finance Committees highlighted that the Gallery would retain £3.4 m of unrestricted reserves at the year end, but that these would be required for the Gallery’s future investment plans.

11. Update on New Digital Services Programme

11.1. The Board noted the report on the New Digital Services programme.

11.2. The Director of Public Engagement updated the Board on the findings from two pieces of audience research, one in relation to audience segmentation and one in relation to audience conversion rates. She highlighted for the Board the fact that the Gallery’s largest audience group comprised visitors in the age bracket 18–34 ; she also highlighted for the Board three other key audience segments identified by the research, who accounted for approximately 4m of the Gallery’s visitors each year .

11.3. The Director of Public Engagement updated the Board on the outcome of a technology review which had been commissioned in order to assess the Gallery’s readiness for change. She reported to the Board on the Gallery’s current technology set up, and proposed steps towards simplification , to create a more flexible and adaptable system. She outlined briefly for the Board the expected costs of technological change

11.4. She outlined next steps for the Board, including a brand review and the development of proposals for new wayfinding systems, both of which would be presented to the Board in the autumn.

11.5. and 11.6. Information has been excluded under s 36 FOI 2000.

12. Exhibition report Goya

The Board noted the exhibition report on Goya: The Portraits, and expressed their congratulations to those involved.

13. Information has been excluded under s 40(2) , 41, 42 and 43  FOI 2000

14. Trustees Introduction to the National Gallery Review

14.1. The Board approved the Trustees’ Introduction to the National Gallery Review, subject to minor amendments.

15. Committees of the Board

15.1. The Board noted the Minutes of the meetings of the Audit and Finance Committees on 17 March. The Chair of the Audit Committee reported that the annual audit would commence in few days’ time; the Audit committee would be meeting to consider the draft accounts on 23 June, and the full Board would be sent the draft accounts in advance of that meeting. He reported to the Board on a recent internal audit report on password controls, and confirmed that all actions recommended in the report had been addressed. Information has been excluded under s 40 and 41 FOI 2000.

15.2. The Board noted the Minutes of the Meeting of the Governance Committee on 21 April and approved the recommendations from the Committee arising from that meeting.

15.3. The Board noted the Minutes of the Nominations Committee meeting on 22 February. The Chair reported on discussions at a further meeting of the Committee on 16 May. She reminded the Board that there was currently one vacancy on the board, and that a second vacancy would arise in August, and said that following discussions with DCMS it was proposed that both should be dealt with at the same time. The Nominations committee wished to give some further consideration to the skills to be sought in relation to these vacancies, and would report back further.

15.4. (This item was dealt with in closed session at the beginning of the meeting). The Chair reported on the recommendations of the Remuneration Committee. Information has been excluded under s 22 and s 36 FOI 2000.

16. Any other business

16.1. The Chair reported to the Board on a meeting she had attended at which the new Mayor for London had spoken. There being no other business the Chair declared the meeting closed.