Meeting held on Friday 7 July 2006
Minutes of the last meeting and matters arising
1. The Board approved the minutes of the last meeting held on 9 June 2006 with one small amendment. This having been made, the Chairman signed the minutes.
Minute 1, division between the NG and Tate collections: the Director reported on a recent meeting with Tate which had made promising progress towards a new proposal.
Minute 3, potential acquisitions: the Artist Trustee proposed that no work should be turned down without being seen, even where there was a recommendation from the relevant curator after careful examination of the work concerned.
2. Minutes of the Trustees Masterplan Committee
The Board noted the minutes of the meeting held on 16 June 2006. It was confirmed that the final decision on next steps was one for the entire Board and had therefore not been taken by the Committee.
The Director and the Director of Building and Facilities presented a report on the recent background to, rationale and options for continuing the masterplan.
The Gallery’s aspirations, in order of priority had been established as increased space for the permanent collection, improved temporary exhibition galleries, education and research facilities and better staff accommodation.
Two architectural schemes were sketched out and explained: the first to provide, in the shorter term, more space for the collection by developing the west side of the Gallery’s lower floor; the second to provide for all the Gallery’s needs, in the longer term, through the redevelopment of St Vincent House. The cost of the first scheme would probably be about a quarter of the full cost of the second but with proportionately limited benefits for the Gallery and with the loss of two important facilities including the Portico shop, unless the costs of the scheme were further increased.
After discussion, Trustees came to the conclusion that a clearer idea of how the collection and its display should and could develop over the next fifty years was needed before a fully informed decision could be made about the future of the building.
It was agreed that the Director and Curators would prepare an analysis of the ways in which the collection might expand over firstly, ten, and then, fifty years, how it might be displayed and how visitors would circulate through and experience it. To provide plenty of time for such an ambitious exercise, the results might be reported in three stages, say to the September and November Board meetings this year and the February meeting in 2007.
Japanese and Far East exhibition loans proposal
3. The Board agreed that they would not want to rule out, as a matter of principle, the Gallery’s participation in initiatives of this kind but would want to be consulted in detail when any such proposal was being considered. Each case would then be decided on its merit.
Expenditure and contract authorisation
4. The Board approved the procedures for authorisation of expenditure and contracts including those for picture acquisition at short notice and contracts under seal as put forward in the paper from the Director of Resources.
5. The Director reported the appointment of Marjorie Wieseman, currently Curator of European Painting and Sculpture at the Cincinnati Art Museum, as the Gallery’s Curator of Dutch Paintings, following the departure of Axel Rüger to become Director of the Van Gogh Museum.
He also reported that the East Wing and Portico Phase 1 project had been given an 'RIBA Conservation Award'.
Visitor figures were slightly down again in June for a number of reasons. It was hoped these would recover as a result of the exhibitions programme later in the year. Trustees expressed concern about the programme in the longer term and the Gallery’s dependence on it for attracting visitors. The Chairman reported that the suggestion that the major London museums and galleries might open late on the same evening had won considerable support from his fellow Chairmen and should now be further explored as it might bring in first-time visitors. The Director said that this would probably mean the National Gallery staying open late on Fridays, problematic only because Wednesday evenings were now well established.
It was agreed that a short paper on the Gallery’s proposals for encouraging visitors to the permanent collection and one on the exhibition programme for the next few years should be brought to the Board later in the year.
Report on the exhibition, 'Americans in Paris'
6. The Board noted the report on the 'Americans in Paris' exhibition.
Pictures for treatment
7. The Board approved the treatment proposed for 'The Lottery in Piazza di Montecitorio' by Giovanni Paolo Panini (NG6605) to be carried out as soon as its purchase had been finalised.
8. The Board noted the report on picture movements.
Any other business
9. The Scientist Trustee reported that Raymond White, the Gallery’s Principal Scientific Officer, who had retired in January, had received a 2005 Interdisciplinary Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry. His citation described him as “distinguished for his ground breaking contributions to the chemical investigation of natural products used in artworks and cultural heritage objects in support of restoration practices and the reconstruction of past technologies”. The Board were very pleased to hear the news and undertook to write and congratulate Mr White.
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