Skip to main content

Minutes of the Board of Trustees - January 2009

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 29 January 2009


Mark Getty (Chairman)
Simon Burke
Professor David Ekserdjian
James Fenton
Michael Hintze
Lord Kerr
Patricia Lankester
John Lessore
Lady Normanby
Ranjit Sondhi
Caroline Thomson


Lady Heseltine
Professor Dame Julia Higgins
Professor Mervyn King

In attendance:

Dr Nicholas Penny (Director)
Martin Wyld (Director of Conservation)
Kate Howe (Secretary to the Board)
Dr Susan Foister (Director of Collections) for items 1,5,6,7 and 8
David Jaffé (Senior Curator) for items 1,5,6 and 7
Luke Syson (Curator of Italian Paintings 1460-1500) for item 1
Jill Dunkerton (Restorer) for item 1
Larry Keith (Restorer) for item 1
Britta New (Assistant Restorer) for item 1
Hayley Tomlinson (Assistant Restorer) for item 1
Bruce Minty (Interim Director of Resources) for items 5 to 9
Peter Schade (Head of Framing) for item 12

Pictures for treatment

1. The Board approved 'Christ Crowned with Thorns' attributed to Lo Spagna (NG 691) as ready to go back on display. They were told that the painting would now be exhibited as “attributed to Perugino”.

The Board also saw for information following completion of treatment 'Virgin and Child' by Naddo Ceccarelli (M1192 Ashmolean Oxford), which it was confirmed would hang on loan in the Gallery until the Ashmolean’s new extension was ready to open.

The Board saw in the course of treatment 'The Adoration of the Shepherds' by Rembrandt (NG47), 'The Virgin of the Rocks' by Leonardo da Vinci (NG1093), 'The Virgin and Child in a Mandoria with Cherubim' by a Follower of Pietro Perugino (NG702), 'The Magdalen' by Follower of Jan Gossaert (NG2163) and for information 'The Triumph of Love' by Titian (M1298 Ashmolean Museum Oxford).


Minutes of the last meeting and matters arising

2. The Board approved the minutes of the meeting held on 27 November 2008 and the minutes of the extraordinary meeting held on 18 December 2008. They were later signed by the Chairman.

Director’s report

3. The Director reported on good attendance figures (in excess of 100,000) for ' Renaissance Faces: Van Eyck to Titian ', including a high number of repeat visitors. He also reported that the numbers visiting 'Diana and Actaeon' when it was on display in the Gallery between October and December had exceeded 58,000.

The Director also reported on high visitor numbers to the permanent collection over the Christmas period. A member of the Board suggested more research might be conducted on the effect of a successful paying or free exhibition on overall visitor numbers to the Gallery.

The Director reported on the big reduction in the number of room closures over the course of the last year; these had fallen from an average of one room closure per day to a now occasional event; this had been achieved by introducing a continuous recruitment programme for gallery assistants, which had lead to a reduction in staff shortages.

The Director reported on structural management changes at senior level, some of which would only be implemented on the appointment of new Directors of Education and Operations, who were in the process of being recruited.

Information has been excluded under s 36 and s43 FOI 2000.

Proposed Acquisitions – Bridgewater Titians

4. The Director confirmed that the contract to acquire Titian’s Diana and Actaeon had been signed and the painting acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland on Wednesday 28 January.

At the same time, the option to acquire 'Diana and Callisto' had been secured. Major donors had been notified, although the acquisition had yet to be publicly announced.

The Board expressed its grateful thanks to the Director and members of the Gallery staff for all their work in securing the painting, and its gratitude to all those members of the public and major donors who had supported the campaign.


Tate Agreement

5. Information has been excluded under s 36 FOI 2000.

Exhibition strategy and programme

6. The proposed Exhibitions strategy and draft programme of Sainsbury wing exhibitions to the end of 2012 were approved by the Board.

Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000.

Loans Out

7. The proposed Exhibitions strategy and draft programme of Sainsbury wing exhibitions to the end of 2012 were approved by the Board.

Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000.

FOI annual report

8. The Board noted the annual FOI report.

Minutes of Committees of the Board

9.The Board noted the Minutes of the Audit and Finance Committees of 15 December.
The interim Director of Resources reported to the Board that DCMS had written to all museums and galleries in the sector, raising a number of issues. The first related to an anticipated overspend by the Department in the current year, and a request to the Gallery and others to assist the DCMS by identifying anticipated underspends, which would avoid the Department having to make arbitrary cuts in order to keep within budget.

A preliminary response to DCMS had been made, as requested, within a week of receiving the letter, but the Director of Resources said that a more accurate assessment of the position could be made at the end of February.

Secondly, the letter from DCMS indicated that the department was discussing, in conjunction with Treasury, possible ways of addressing the concerns of NDPBs in relation to the spending of their reserves.

Thirdly, the letter from DCMS had asked the Gallery to indicate what the impact on its activities would be in the event of cuts to grant-in- aid in the year 2010-2011 of 1.5%, 2% or 3%.

The Director of Resources said that a cut of 3% would result in lost income of £725K, and that such a cut could have such consequences as a need to reschedule works to plant and buildings, a reduction in free exhibitions, and cuts to family Sundays. It was agreed that this topic should be given further detailed consideration at the board’s forthcoming strategy weekend.

The Minutes of the Nominations committee of 11 November and 4 December were noted. In relation to the search for two new Trustees, the Chairman reported that shortlisted candidates had been interviewed, and names would be put to the Minister for consideration shortly.

Picture Movements

10. The Board noted the report on picture movements.

Proposed memorial event for Sir Michael Levey

11. The Board expressed its sorrow over the death of Sir Michael Levey, and in view of his significant contribution as a Director of the Gallery approved the holding of a memorial event in the Gallery.
Report on the Framing department.

12. The Board received a presentation by the Head of Framing in relation to the work of the department, and were shown examples of paintings recently re-framed, including examples of reproduction frames created in the department, period frames acquired, and frames specifically adapted to particular paintings.

Any other business

13. The Chairman said that this was the last Board meeting of Ranjit Sondhi and Mervyn King, and on behalf of the Board thanked them both warmly for everything they had done for the Gallery. There being no other business the Chairman declared the meeting closed.

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