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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - December 2007

Meeting held Friday 7 December 2007


Peter Scott (Chairman)
Simon Burke
Professor David Ekserdjian
James Fenton
Professor Dame Julia Higgins
Professor Mervyn King
Lord Kerr
Patricia Lankester
John Lessore
Lady Normanby
Jon Snow
Ranjit Sondhi


Mark Getty

In attendance

Martin Wyld (Acting Director)
David Jaffé (Senior Curator)
Christopher Yates (Director of Resources)
Susan Foister (Director of Collections) for items 4-16
Mary Hersov (Head of Exhibitions) for item 4
Kate Howe (Secretary to the Board)

Process of appointment of next Director

1. The Board met to discuss issues arising out of the process of appointment of the next Director in the absence of staff. It was confirmed that the new Director, Dr Nicholas Penny, would take up his post on 4 February 2008. The Board thanked the Acting Director for his excellent management of the Gallery in the interim period.

Minutes of the last meeting and matters arising

2. The Board approved the minutes of the meeting held on 9 November 2007. They were later signed by the Chairman.

Director’s report

3. The Director reported that the post of Head of Buildings had been offered to a candidate who had decided that he was unwilling to relocate to take up the post. It would now be left vacant, pending discussions with the new Director.

Interviews had taken place for an interim appointee to fill the vacancy which would arise on 31 December, when the Director of Resource’s contract of employment would come to an end. The post had been offered to a candidate who was available to start work in mid-January.


4. The Head of Collections presented two strategic papers on exhibitions. The Board welcomed the first paper, and in particular the developments in relation to the 2009 exhibitions programme. It was agreed however that the objective of a programme which delivered financial neutrality represented a baseline and not a target, and that the entire strategy for exhibitions (including the issues raised in the second paper) would be revisited in the spring of 2008, under the leadership of the new Director.

When the matter was revisited, the Board asked for consideration to be given to the scope for shortening, on occasion, the turnaround time between exhibitions; they also suggested that, on occasion, exhibitions might run for either a longer or shorter period than was currently the norm. The Board emphasised their view of the importance of the choice of titles and images in promoting exhibitions.


5. The Board welcomed the paper on research and the setting up of the Research Committee. Professor Julia Higgins suggested that in future years Trustees should be invited to attend the annual meeting of the Scientific Consultative Group, subject to the fact that, for reasons of space, only one or two could probably be accommodated each year. This was agreed.

Lucas Cranach the Elder’s 'Cupid complaining to Venus' (NG6344)

6. Information has been excluded under s 22 and s36 FOI Act 2000

Potential Acquisitions

7. The Board confirmed that the application to the HLF for a grant in connection with the possible acquisition of the Poussin Sacraments should be withdrawn.

Information has been excluded under s 41 and 43 FOI Act 2000

Proposed three-year Corporate Partnership

8. It was reported that a contract was expected to be signed within the next three weeks. The Board thanked the Development department for all their work in relation to this matter.

Appointment to the Remuneration Committee

9. The Chairman proposed that the vacancy on the Remuneration Committee should be filled by Patricia Lankester, who had kindly agreed to be appointed and this proposal was approved.

Appointments to the Board of AFNGL

10. The Board, without the Chairman, approved the reappointment to the Board of the American Friends of the National Gallery, London Inc. of Christopher Gibbs, Alastair Ross Goobey and Peter Scott as Class A Directors for another year.

Minutes of Committees of the Board

11. The Board noted the minutes of the Meetings of the Audit and Finance Committees held on 1 November 2007. There was a discussion of the future format of reports from the Committee to the Board, in the light of issues raised in the revised HM Treasury Audit Committee Handbook.

The Chairman of the Audit Committee reminded the Board that the role of the Audit Committee was to look at events which posed risks to the Gallery. He recommended that in future such events should be highlighted in the minutes and specifically discussed by the Board. This was agreed.

The Chairman of the Audit Committee reported that the Committee was considering the issue of testing of full “Lock Down” procedures. There would be a specific report back to the Audit Committee on this issue in due course. He reported that the Committee was also concerned about the continuation of the long-standing industrial dispute.The Director of Resources confirmed that the outcome of the CSR was satisfactory as far as the Gallery was concerned.

Dates of 2008 Board meetings and strategy weekend

12. There was discussion of this item. It was agreed that the Board Secretary would take matters forward after the meeting.

Pictures for treatment

13. The Board agreed that, subject to completion of treatment, 'Saint Catherine of Alexandria with a Donor' by Pintoricchio (NG 693) would be ready to go back on display in January. The Board saw in the course of treatment 'A Distant View of Dordrecht, with a Milkmaid and Four Cows, and Other Figures (“The Large Dort”)' by Aelbert Cuyp (NG 961) and asked to be shown it once more in the course of treatment.

The Board approved the treatment proposed for 'Portrait of Armand Gérôme' by Jean-Léon Gérôme (NG3251).The Board approved the treatment proposed for 'The Charity of Saint Nicholas of Bari' (NG 6606). The Board approved the treatment proposed for 'La Ferté' by RP Bonington (L1070).

The Acting Director confirmed that both these paintings had been allocated to the Gallery under the AIL scheme, (the Bonington initially for just five years) but the allocation had not yet been announced. He further confirmed that notwithstanding that the Bonington had only been allocated to the Gallery for five years, the Gallery had been given full authority to carry out such treatment as it deemed appropriate.

Loans out

14. The Board noted the report on loans out.

Picture movements

15. The Board noted the report on picture movements.

Any other Business

16. The Chairman reported to the Board on progress in relation to the search for four new Trustees. The Board expressed its thanks to the selection panel for their work. A Trustee asked that the possibility of applying for planning permission for a flight of steps from the Portico entrance into the Square should be re-examined. It was agreed that this could be discussed by the Board in March 2008

Copies of previous Board minutes can be obtained from the Libraries and Archive department.

Confidential and sensitive information has been excluded from these published minutes in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000

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