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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - March 2006

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Friday 10 March 2006

Minutes of the last meeting and matters arising

1. The Board approved the minutes of the meeting held on 10 February 2006, which were then signed by the Chairman.

Matters arising:

Minute 3, acquisitions: the Chairman said that the sub-group was being set up to consider acquisition strategy and funding. Any Trustee interested in joining was invited to see him after the meeting. A strategy paper would be drafted and once approved, would be reviewed every two years thereafter.

Director’s report

2. Catering: the Director reported that the Sainsbury Wing restaurant had successfully reopened under new management and the first two weeks had gone well.

Staff matters: the Director announced that the Head of Development would be leaving the Gallery in the summer to take up his appointment as Director of Charleston in East Sussex. The Board expressed their congratulations. The Director outlined the Gallery’s plans for finding a successor and undertook to report on progress in due course.

Visitor numbers: the Director said a paper on possible ways to attract visitors back to the Gallery would be presented to the Board in April. The figure for February was about 316,000, with attendance at 'Americans in Paris 'on budget.

Eastlake diaries: the Director of Collections said that this publication project was important for the study of the early history of the Gallery. The Eastlake Research Fellow was now in post with funding in place for the first year of her three-year fellowship.

Potential acquisition

3. Gerald de Lairesse, 'The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple'

The picture was presented to the Board by the Curator of Dutch Paintings. Sources of possible funding were discussed. The Board agreed that in view of other potential acquisitions in the offing, the decision on this picture should be postponed until the next Board meeting in April when the situation might be clearer.

Acquisitions and relationship with lenders

4. The Board discussed potential acquisitions and the value of loans in enhancing and enlivening the collection, the gratitude owed to lenders and both the Gallery’s and the Trustees’ relationship with them including any possible conflicts of interest.

Report on the Rubens exhibition

5. The Board noted the report. Trustees expressed their support for lower priced catalogues when possible and for labels booklets, which had proved useful and popular. They suggested that in the event of late changes to the hang, an accompanying plan might solve the problem of the resulting mismatch with the booklet. The Head of Exhibitions agreed to consider this suggestion and said that there was to be a full catalogue and a cheaper booklet to accompany the Velázquez exhibition in the autumn.

Loan requests

6. The Board agreed to the loans recommended in the Senior Curator’s paper and endorsed the decisions not to lend. The Board noted the changes of dates ( from March- June to May-August 2006) for the exhibitions, Raphael in the Borghese Collection, (loans affected: NG 213 and 744) and Degas, the Universe of an Artist, (loans affected: NG 4168 and 3337) at the Galleria Borghese, Rome and the Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand in Brazil, respectively.

Grant application from NGC

7. The Board agreed a grant to the National Gallery Company of £40,000 towards publication of a revised and extended edition of 'Art in the Making: Rembrandt' and noted that the grant had been made possible by a generous donation from Exxon Mobil.

House of Lords enquiry into science & heritage

8. The Board noted the evidence submitted to the enquiry by the National Gallery and congratulated the Director of Scientific Research on his paper. It was agreed that a list of the members of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee would be circulated to Trustees. Discussion followed of funding and training opportunities. The Scientist Trustee commended the Gallery’s Scientific Department and their effective use of equipment for which funding was particularly needed. In relation to training, she expressed the view that conservation science could rival forensic science in its appeal to young people.

Pictures for treatment

9. The Board agreed that 'Souvenir' 'of a Journey to Coubron' by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (NG 2631) was ready to go back on display; and noted the work in progress on 'Saint Anthony Abbot 'by Giovanni di Nicola (NG 3896). The Board also noted the very minor damage, a scratch in the varnish, sustained by 'The Betrayal of Christ' by Ugolino di Nero (NG 1188) while on exhibition and authorised the Director of Conservation to carry out the necessary repair.

Picture movements

10. The Board noted the report on picture movements.

There being no other business the Chairman brought the meeting to a close.

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