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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - July 2014

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 17 July 2014


Mark Getty (in the Chair) 
Lance Batchelor
Gautam Dalal
Professor Dexter Dalwood
Lady Heseltine 
Professor Anya Hurlbert
John Nelson
Hannah Rothschild
John Singer
Caroline Thomson


Sir Michael Hintze
Charles Sebag-Montefiore
Monisha Shah

In attendance

Dr Nicholas Penny - Director (not for item 14f)
Kate Howe - Secretary to the Board and Legal Counsel
Dr Susan Foister - Director of Public Engagement and Deputy Director (item 1, part of item 6, items 7-13 and item 16)
Dr Ashok Roy - Director of Collections (item 1, part of item 6, items 7-13 and item 16)
Chris Walker - Director of Finance and Operations (item 1, part of item 6, items 7-13 and item 16)
Larry Keith - Head of Conservation and Keeper (items 1, 12, 13 and 16)
Letizia Treves - Head of Curatorial and Curator of Italian and Spanish Paintings 1600-1800 (items 1, 12, 13 and 16)
Morwenna Blewett - Assistant Restorer (item1)
Jill Dunkerton - Restorer (item 1)
Britta New - Restorer (item1)
Betsy Wieseman - Curator of Dutch and Flemish Paintings (item 1)
Matthias Wivel - Curator of 16th Century Italian Paintings (item 1)
Louise Peckett - Head of Finance (item 7)
Jane Knowles - Head of Exhibitions (item 10)
Caroline Campbell - Curator of Italian Paintings before 1500 and Loans Curator (item 12)
Humphrey Wine - Curator of French 17th Century and 18th Century Paintings (item 16)

1. Pictures for treatment

The Board saw 'Portrait of a Man Holding Gloves' by Frans Hals (NG2528), 'Portrait of a Woman (Marie Larp?)' by Frans Hals (NG6413) and 'Portrait of Frederick Rihel on Horseback' by Rembrandt (NG6300), following completion of treatment and approved them all  as ready to go back on display. The Head of Conservation reported that the two Hals paintings would form part of a display of Hals’ works which would be used to fill gaps on the main floor of the Gallery during the Rembrandt exhibition.

The Board saw and approved the treatment proposed for 'Portrait of Hermine Gallia' by Gustav Klimt (NG6434), 'The Assassination of Saint Peter Martyr' by Giovanni Bellini (NG812), 'The Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Saint Catherine' by Andera Previtali (NG1409) and 'Head of Saint John the Baptist', Italian (NG1438).

The Board were told that they would see NG812 again several times during the course of treatment.

2. Process of appointment of next Director

The Deputy Chair (as Chair of the Panel dealing with the search for the next Director) confirmed to the Board that Odgers Berndtson had been selected by the Panel to assist with the search for the next Director, and their appointment had been approved by DCMS. She confirmed that two art history experts would be advising the Panel in the early stages of the search. There was a discussion of the provisional timetable for the search and it was confirmed that advertising would take place in September. It was agreed that a further discussion would ideally be had by the full board to identify the areas of future strategy which the Board wished to explore with candidates.

The Deputy Chair confirmed that the intention would be to report to the full Board before finalising the shortlist for final interviews, so that the full Board had the opportunity to comment on and approve the shortlist. All Board members would be involved in final interviews.

It was agreed that any potential candidates approaching Board members for information would be referred to the search consultants.

3. Declarations of interest

Hannah Rothschild declared an interest in a proposed loan to Spencer House referred to in the Director’s report and, for information, in the paper on Loans Out.

4. Minutes of 1 May 2014

The Board approved the Minutes of 1 May 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.

6. Director's report, events and visitor numbers

The Director presented and expanded on his written report.

Information has been excluded under s 40 FOI Act 2000.

The Director reported on discussions with lenders arising from the Gallery’s change of policy in relation to photography in the Gallery; as part of the introduction of WiFi in the Gallery, the Gallery was proposing to allow photography by visitors within the permanent collection (although the prohibition on photography within exhibitions would remain); staff were being trained to manage the behaviour of those taking photographs to seek to prevent intrusive photography resulting in a diminished experience for all visitors. Most lenders to the permanent collection understood the reasons for and accepted the Gallery’s change of policy.

Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI Act 2000.

7. Annual accounts and report from the Audit committee

The Head of Finance presented to the Board  the Annual Report and Accounts, the Annual Report of the Audit committee and the Annual Fire Risk Assessment and Health and Safety Report. It was confirmed that the Accounts had received NAO sign off and would be laid before Parliament in the following week. The Board expressed their thanks to the Gallery’s finance department for the efficient  process leading to the finalisation of the Accounts.

8. Update on work in finance and operations directorate

The Director of Finance and Operations presented a report to the Board on progress and plans within his Directorate.

In relation to the proposal to undertake a formal tender process for the outsourced provision of certain services, it was noted that a letter to the Board had been received from the General Secretary and President of PCS; this letter was discussed and it was agreed that responses would be sent from the Chairman and the Director. It was noted that the letter from PCS alluded to “privatisation” of Gallery services, and that this was a misleading use of language.

In terms of dealing with staff queries in relation to the proposals, the Director confirmed that these were being dealt with through Q and A’s on the Gallery intranet and drop-in sessions.

9. Lobby reconfiguration

The Director of Public Engagement gave a presentation to the Board in relation to proposed changes to the lobby areas of the Gallery which were designed to ensure a warmer welcome to visitors.

10. Exhibition report, 'Strange Beauty: Masters of the German Renaissance'

The Chairman welcomed the Gallery’s new Head of Exhibitions to her first meeting of the Board. The Head of Exhibitions presented the report on the 'Strange Beauty: Masters of the German Renaissance' exhibition. It was noted that this was the first time that the Gallery had put on two charged for exhibitions at the same time, and the possible impact of this on visitor numbers was discussed. The critical reception of the exhibition was discussed, including the criticism which had been levied at the Gallery for charging for what was seen as a primarily collection based exhibition notwithstanding the fact that the exhibition included 35 major loans from within the UK.

11. Information has been excluded under s 42 FOI 2000

12. Loans out

a.  The Board approved  the proposed loans from the Collection and asked for it to be noted that they would be reluctant to approve further loans out of Raphael’s 'Madonna of the Pinks' in the near future.

b.  The Board considered the trends in loans out over recent years, and were pleased to note that the number of loans from the Collection was not increasing over time.

Information has been excluded under s 36 FOI 2000

13. Museum accreditation

In advance of the submission of the Gallery’s application to the Arts Council for renewal of its Accreditation status the Board  considered new or revised versions of the following documents namely the Collections Development Policy; the Display Policy (Permanent Collection); the Exhibitions Policy; the Documentation Policy; the Access Policy; and the Care and Conservation Plan. In relation to the Access Policy, the Director of Public Engagement confirmed to the Board that the Safeguarding Policy referred to in it had recently been revised and that staff were being trained in relation to this area. The Board asked that the Access Policy should make reference to the Gallery’s commitment to free access. Subject to this amendment, the Board approved all the documentation.

14. Committees of the Board

a. Report from the Nominations committee Chair
It was reported to the Board that interviews for the current Trustee vacancy had taken place at the beginning of the week, and that a submission would be put to Ministers imminently. The Chairman confirmed that he hoped recommendations in relation to possible reappointments would go to Ministers at the same time.

b. Report from the Development committee Chair
The Chairman of the Development committee updated the Board in relation to progress in securing sponsorship for forthcoming exhibitions and also in relation to corporate membership.

c. Governance committee
The Board approved the terms of reference of the Governance committee and noted the minutes of the meeting of 27 May.

d. Finance committee
The Board noted the minutes of the Finance committee of 26 June.

e. Audit committee
The Board noted the minutes of the Audit committee of 26 June.

f. Remuneration committee
The Chairman reported to the Board on a meeting of the Remuneration committee earlier in the day at which the Director’s performance in the year 2013-14 had been considered. Information has been excluded under s 22 FOI Act 2000. 
The Board approved the objectives proposed for the Director for 2014-15.

15. Board effectiveness survey

The Board noted the form of Board effectiveness survey for 2014, which they were asked to complete.

16. Any other business

There was a discussion of a proposed acquisition (this item was taken immediately after item 12). Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI Act 2000.

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