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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - February 2007

Meeting held Friday 9 February 2007

Minutes of the last meeting and matters arising

1. The Board approved the minutes of the meeting held on 12 January 2007, which were then signed by the Chairman.

Matters arising: minute 3, division between the Tate and National Gallery collections: the Chairman reported on a recent discussion of the issue with the Tate Chairman. The Board then agreed that further proposals should be put to the Tate arising from that discussion for consideration at the March Board meeting.

Director's report

2. Exhibitions, 'Scratch the Surface': the Director reported on the plans for this exhibition, due to open later this summer, under the curatorship of the Inspire Fellow, currently on secondment to the National Gallery. The exhibition had been devised to fit in with the national commemoration of the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade.

Trustees expressed the hope that the exhibition, if not in the display itself then in the written material accompanying it, would present a balanced account of the Gallery's connections with the slave trade and its abolition, since the subject was a complicated one in general; and was almost certain to be so in particular, in its impact on personalities associated with the collection.

Visitor figures: the Director reported that the January total of about 434,000 was a ten-year record for that month. Trustees discussed the improvement in visitor figures but noted that the Gallery's visitor numbers had been exceptionally slow to regain the average levels of 2001/2. It was thought that the deterrent effect of subsequent terrorist attacks had hit the Gallery particularly hard due to it central position in Trafalgar Square.

Board weekend away: the Board approved the proposed arrangements for the weekend. Meetings on both Saturday and Sunday would be chaired by the Director. An agenda would follow later.

Potential Acquisitions

3. The Board authorised the Director to write to the owners of a potential acquisition to update them on the Gallery's current position.

The Board discussed the possible strategies for acquisition funding and agreed that the best way forward would be to explore the third option which had been raised at the January meeting and had now been further developed by the Gallery. The Board also agreed to consider the arguments for and difficulties involved in creating and maintaining an adequate endowment for picture purchase.

In the meantime, it was agreed that the next meeting of the Masterplan Committee on 22 February would be cancelled and the April meeting confirmed.

National Gallery Company matters

4. The Board discussed the paper proposing changes to the National Gallery Company's reproduction charges. The proposals, as far as they went, were approved but it was suggested they might go further.

It was agreed that EU law should be checked on one issue and the possibility of widening the proposed concessions should be explored, with the conclusions being brought back to the Board in March for final approval.

The Board approved in principle the plans for a catering outlet on the east lawn and an application to Westminster City Council for planning permission. A number of practical issues were raised including the effect of bad weather and possible health and safety problems relating to the Trafalgar Square pigeons. It was agreed these should be thoroughly investigated.

Quarterly management report

5. The Board noted the quarterly management report.

Freedom of information: annual report

6. The Board noted the Gallery's annual report on enquiries under freedom of information legislation.

Minutes of Committee of the Board

7. It was agreed that consideration of the minutes of the Audit and Finance Committee meetings held on 23 November 2006 should be postponed until the March Board meeting as the Chairman of both Committees had had to leave the meeting before this agenda item was reached.

Loan requests

8. Professor David Ekserdjian declared a possible conflict of interest arising from this item relating to his curatorship of the planned Correggio exhibition and took no part in the discussion nor the resulting decisions.

The Board agreed to the loans recommended in the Senior Curator's paper; endorsed the Gallery's decisions to decline to lend; and noted the changes to dates and venues of exhibitions to which the Gallery had already agreed to lend, as set out in the paper. An analysis of trends in the Gallery's lending over several years would be brought to the Board in June.

Pictures for treatment

9. The Board agreed that the 'Delaware Water Gap' by George Inness the Elder (NG 4998) was ready to go back on display after treatment; and approved the treatment proposed for 'Saint Catherine of Alexandria with a Doctor' by Pintoricchio (NG 693). They also examined 'Saint Bavo about to receive the Monastic Habit at Ghent' by Peter Paul Rubens (NG 57) and 'The Lottery in Piazza di Montecitorio' by Giovanni Paolo Panini (NG 6605) undergoing treatment.

Picture movements

10. The Board noted the report on picture movements.

Any other Business

11. There being no other business, the Chairman brought the meeting to a close.

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

Read our Freedom of Information Policy