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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - July 2013

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 18 July 2013


Mark Getty (in the Chair)
Lance Batchelor
Professor David Ekserdjian
Lady Heseltine
Sir Michael Hintze
Professor Anya Hurlbert
John Nelson
Hannah Rothschild
Charles Sebag-Montefiore
Monisha Shah
John Singer


Gautam Dalal
Professor Dexter Dalwood
Caroline Thomson

In attendance

Dr Nicholas Penny – Director
Kate Howe – Secretary to the Board and Legal Counsel
Dr Susan Foister – Director of Public Engagement and Deputy Director (not for part of items 6 and 14, item 15 or 16)
Chris Walker – Director of Finance and Operations, designate (not for part of items 6 and 14, item 15 or 16)
Larry Keith – Head of Conservation and Keeper (items 1-3)
Letizia Treves – Head of Curatorial and Curator of Italian and Spanish Paintings 1600-1800 (items 1-3 and 8)
Caroline Campbell – Curator of Italian Paintings before 1500 and Loans Curator (items 1-3)
Betsy Wieseman – Curator of Dutch Paintings (item 1)
Paul Ackroyd – Restorer (item 1)
Britta New – Assistant Restorer (item 1)
David Commins – VSS Consultant (item 7)
RoseMarie Loft – Head of HR (item 7)
Cathy Putz – Exhibitions Curator (item 10)
Karen Atkinson – Interim Head of Finance (items 11-14 (part))

1. Pictures for treatment

The Board saw following completion of treatment 'The Wandering Musicians' by Dietrich (NG205), 'Cattle' by Schweickhardt (NG1878), 'The Virgin and Child in a Mandorla with Cherubim' by Italian, Umbrian or Roman School (NG702) and 'The Adoration of the Kings' by Veronese (NG268). The Board were reminded that the latter had been under treatment for nearly three years.

The Board approved all four paintings as ready to go on display.

The Board were shown 'Portrait of a Man holding Gloves' by Hals (NG2528) and 'Portrait of a Woman (Marie Larp ?)' by Hals (NG6413) which were proposed for treatment. The Curator of Dutch paintings said that she hoped that after treatment both these paintings would return to display on the main floor of the Gallery where they had not hung for decades. The Board approved the treatment proposed.

The Board also saw for information prior to treatment 'Christ between Saints Paul and Peter' by Lorenzetti (M1455). The Board were told that this painting had recently been acquired by the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull, and that the Gallery would be carrying out conservation work to it. The Director confirmed to the Board that assisting regional museums with this kind of work, free of charge, was one of the most important parts of the Gallery’s national programme.

2. Declarations of Interest

There were no declarations of interest.

3. Loans out

The Board considered the loans out paper and a question was raised concerning how rooms would be re-hung while certain paintings were out on loan.

The Board approved all proposed loans from the collection and noted changes of dates.

The Board expressed an interest in having more information about paintings not on display on the main floor of the Gallery and the Director said that this would be provided when Gallery A re-opened later in the year – and at this point the Board could also reconsider the Gallery’s policy on lending of paintings which were not on displayed on the main floor.

A member of the Board proposed that consideration should be given to providing more information for the public on the website about paintings which were currently on loan or due to go out on loan.

4. Minutes of 2 May and 24 June and matters arising

The Board approved the Minutes of 2 May subject to two minor amendments and the Chairman was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting. The Board also approved the Minutes of 24 June and the Chairman was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting.

5. Follow up to Board strategy weekend

The Board noted the summary of discussions at the Board strategy weekend.

In the context of the discussion of possible relocation of one of the Gallery shops, the Chairman of the National Gallery Company reported that this subject would be considered by the Company at a forthcoming meeting and it was proposed that representatives of the Company and the Gallery board might meet to discuss in September.

6. Director's report, events and visitor numbers

The Board noted the Director’s report.

 In the absence of staff, the Director updated the Board on staff issues including recent and impending arrivals and departures. The Director reported that members of the new senior management team were receiving coaching, both individually and as a group.

There was a brief discussion with the Board in relation to what the new freedoms which had been promised to some national galleries and museums as part of the recent spending review settlement might mean in terms of flexibility on staff pay; the Director said that the details of the new freedoms had yet to be communicated.

The Board noted highlights of the Gallery’s education programme, and commented on the potential for fundraising in support of educational activities.

The Board noted the increase in the last 12 months of the Gallery's social media following; the Board highlighted the importance of developing a clear understanding of the ways in which use of social media might help further the Gallery's objectives, rather than seeking simply to increase its social media following.

7. Director's report, events and visitor numbers

Information has been excluded under s 31 and 36 FOI 2000.

8. Proposed picture acquisitions

Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000.

9. Information has been excluded under s 42 FOI 2000.

10. Exhibition report, Barocci: Brilliance and Grace

The Board noted the exhibition report.

The Exhibitions Curator confirmed that satisfaction levels with the exhibition had been high and the exhibition had also been very well received in the press. The Gallery’s intention had been to bring this relatively unknown artist to much higher prominence and this had been achieved. She felt that everything which could have been done in relation to marketing had been done; the Director noted that the exhibition could have been better publicised within the Gallery itself.

11. Annual accounts and Annual Report of the Audit committee

The Board noted the annual accounts and annual report of the audit committee which, in the absence of the Chair of the Audit Committee, were presented by John Singer. The Director thanked the Director of Finance and Operations designate and the Interim Head of Finance for their respective contributions to the finalisation of the accounts.

12. Quarterly management report to 31 March

The Board noted the quarterly management report.

13. Proposed grant applications to the AFNGL

The Board approved the making of the proposed grant applications to the American Friends of the National Gallery.

14. Committees of the Board

  • The Board noted the minutes of the Audit committee of 27 June. In the absence of the Chair of the Audit Committee, John Singer reported that some processes within the finance department were too manual and this required attention. The Interim Head of Finance confirmed that the accounting system used by the Gallery was good and reputable – but that further training of the finance team was underway to ensure greater automation.
  • The Board noted the minutes of the Nominations Committee of 2 May and a report from the Committee in relation to the vacancy which would arise on the retirement of David Ekserdjian from the Board in September 2013. The Chairman reported on a further meeting of the Nominations Committee earlier in the day, and the recommendation of the Committee in relation to the skills to be sought when filling the September board vacancy. The Board approved the recommendation, and the Chairman confirmed that the next step would be for the Nominations committee to approve the role and person specification which would then be sent to DCMS for approval by Ministers.
  • The Chair of the Development committee reported on the securing of a new corporate member and on progress in relation to exhibition sponsorship.

15. Next Chair appointment process

The Board noted the paper in relation to the next Chair appointment process and approved the proposal in paragraph 5 of that paper.

16. Any other business

The Chairman noted that this was the last Board meeting which David Ekserdjian would attend, and thanked him on behalf of the Board and the Gallery for his contribution over many years.

There being no other business, the Chairman declared the meeting closed.

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