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Minutes of the Board of Trustees – February 2010

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 4 February 2010


Mark Getty, Chairman
Gautam Dalal
Michael Hintze
Lord Kerr
Patricia Lankester
John Lessore
Lady Normanby
Hannah Rothschild
Caroline Thomson (not for items 1 and 2)


Simon Burke 
Professor David Ekserdjian 
Lady Heseltine 
Professor Dame Julia Higgins

In attendance:

Dr Nicholas Penny (Director)
Kate Howe (Secretary to the Board)
Dr Susan Foister (Director of Collections) for items 1 to 6
David Jaffé (Senior Curator) for items 1 to 6
Larry Keith (Director of Conservation) for items 1 to 6
Paul Ackroyd (Restorer) for item 1 (part)
Greg Perry (Director of Operations and Administration) for items 4 to 10

Conservation Directorate report

1. The Board were shown Portrait of a Lady (‘La Schiavona’) by Titian (NG 5385) which had shown some undulation to the canvas when it had been unpacked following return to the Gallery from a loan out. There was, however, now no discernible surface distortion. An investigation was being carried out into the possible source of the problem.

The new Director of Conservation presented to the Board his report on the Directorate. There was a discussion of the proposal to establish a programme of post-graduate internships in the practice of paintings conservation, subject to funding. The Director emphasised the likely role of the Conservation Department in the Gallery’s evolving national programme, and the importance of sharing of expertise and giving advice to other national institutions.

Loans out

2. The Board approved proposed loans from the collection (save for the requested loan of The Umbrellas by Renoir (NG3268) which was deferred to a future meeting, pending further information), including the loan of Titian’s Diana and Actaeon (NG6611) to Aberdeen Art Gallery, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum Glasgow and to the McManus Galleries Dundee, subject in every case to the Gallery being satisfied as to the security and environmental conditions at each borrowing institution.

The Artist Trustee reminded the Board of the possible risks to Old Master Paintings from vibration, which he said was inherent in the transportation of paintings. The Director suggested that the Board should receive a report from the Scientific Department, updating them on research in this area.

The Board requested further information about the number of paintings which were out on loan at any one time, and it was suggested this might be incorporated into the Loans Out or Picture Movements paper each month, and might differentiate between loans to UK institutions and loans abroad. It might also indicate how many of the paintings out on loan were main floor paintings. 

The Director commended the work which had been done by the Curatorial and Collections management departments in producing the new format of Loans Out paper.

Picture movements

3. The Board noted the report on picture movements.

Minutes of the last meeting and matters arising

4. The Board approved the minutes of the meeting on 3 December 2009,  which were later signed by the Chairman.

The Chairman reported that the search for a new Scientist trustee had produced an exceptional shortlist of candidates.

Annual Freedom of Information report

5. The Director of Collections presented the annual report on Freedom of Information requests. She pointed out that the number of requests in 2009 (52) had increased sharply from those in 2008, and that many were from the same source.

The public interest in MP’s expenses had lead to a multiplicity of enquiries about expenses of the Director and other senior staff. At the beginning of the year, two appeals were pending, and another was made during the year. In one case the appeal was subsequently withdrawn; in another the Information Commissioner ruled in favour of the Gallery and the third matter was still pending. The Board commended the format of the report.

Director’s report

6. The Director reported to the Board that the PCS union was currently balloting members in relation to proposed industrial action, arising out of the Gallery’s 2009-10 pay award, which the Director said could not in any event be re-opened.

The Director reported to the Board on the permanent allocation by the Acceptance in Lieu panel to the Gallery of A Still life of Flowers in a Wan-Li Vase by Ambrosius Bosscaert(NG6613). The Board suggested that labels which highlighted new acquisitions should differentiate between purchases and other acquisitions.

Information has been excluded under s36 and 43 FOI 2000.

The Director reported briefly to the Board on the outstanding success of The Sacred made Real exhibition, which had attracted over 99,000 visitors, including a very high proportion of repeat visitors; a full report would be made at the next meeting. The Board conveyed its congratulations to the Curator, Xavier Bray.

The Director reported on a recent meeting with Treasury, organised by the NMDC. Trustees would be circulated with the Executive Summary of the NMDC Case for Museums.

The Board approved the funding of a 100th birthday party at the Gallery for Denis Mahon, at a cost to the Gallery of £7,500, in view of his exceptionally long-standing support of the Gallery.

Budget 2010-11

7. The Director of Operations and Administration confirmed that a budget for the year 2010-11 would be presented to the Board for approval at their next meeting.  There was a discussion of possible efficiencies and savings.

Information has been excluded under s 36 FOI 2000.

Minutes of the Board

8. The Board noted the minutes of the meetings of Audit and Finance  Committees on 3 December 2009.

Grant applications

9. The Board approved the making of proposed grant applications to the NGT in the amounts of £24,612 and £3,000 for the purposes specified in the paper presented to them and authorised the Director to make formal applications when required for the other purposes specified in that paper.

Any other business

10. The Chairman said that this would be the last Board meeting attended by Lord Kerr.  On behalf of the Board and the Gallery, he thanked Lord Kerr for his exceptional service to the Gallery and for the outstanding contribution he had made for many years as Chair of the Development Committee.

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