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Minutes of the Board of Trustees – May 2012

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 17 May 2012


Mark Getty, Chairman
Gautam Dalal
Dexter Dalwood
Professor David Ekserdjian
Lady Heseltine
Patricia Lankester
John Nelson
Caroline Thomson


Lance Batchelor
Michael Hintze
Professor Anya Hurlbert
Hannah Rothschild

In attendance

Dr Nicholas Penny (Director)
Dr Susan Foister (Deputy Director)
Kate Howe (Secretary to the Board)     
David Jaffe (Senior Curator) items 1–3 and 6
Larry Keith (Director of Conservation) items 1–3 and 6
Dawson Carr (Curator of Italian and Spanish Painting 1500-1800) item 1
Virginia Napoleone (McCrindle Curatorial Assistant) item 1
Jane Ellis (Head of Finance) items 7–9
Cathy Putz (Exhibitions Curator) item 7

Prior to the formal part of the meeting, the Board were shown proposed pictures for acquisition.

Pictures for treatment

1. The Board saw Portrait of a Lady by Caspar Netscher (NG4790) following completion of treatment and approved it as ready to go back on display.

The Board saw in the course of treatment The Virgin and Child with Saints George, James the Greater and a Donor attributed to Giovanni Martini da Udine (NG778). The Director of Conservation noted that the Gallery was working with the Getty Panel Paintings Initiative in relation to the work on this painting.

The Board saw and approved the treatment proposed for The Tower of Babel by Leandro Bassano (NG60) and The Magdalen Netherlandish (NG719). The Board were told that the latter was an Antwerp Mannerist painting of which the Gallery had few and was one of a group of paintings given to the Gallery in 1863 by Queen Victoria, in memory of Prince Albert. This painting, once cleaned and re-framed, might sometimes hang on the main floor of the Gallery.

Declarations of interest

2. David Ekserdjian declared in relation to agenda item 3 that, for the forthcoming exhibition of Bronzes which he was curating for the Royal Academy, loans might be requested from some of the institutions who had requested loans from the Gallery.

Dexter Dalwood declared in relation to an item included for information in the Director’s report that he was represented by the Alan Cristea Gallery.

Loans out

3. The Board approved all proposed loans from the Collection, although the Board asked for it to be noted that Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (NG3863) would only be lent in exceptional circumstances.

Minutes of 22 March and matters arising

4. The Minutes were approved subject to minor amendments and the Chairman was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting.  

Director's report, events and visitor numbers

5. The Board noted the Director’s report.

They expressed their regret at the news of the resignation of the Head of Finance. The Director reported that he would be making an interim appointment to fill the post.

Information has been excluded under s 31 and s 43 Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Proposed Acquisitions

6. Information has been excluded under s 43 Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Exhibition report, 'Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan'

7. The Exhibitions Curator presented her report to the Board.

In relation to the financial outcome of the exhibition, which had been exceptionally strong, it was noted that although there had been costs overruns in the areas of design and the production of the catalogue, the management  and containment of costs by the Gallery’s registrars department had been exemplary. There was a discussion in relation to the impact of the exhibition on fundraising; it was noted that membership of the Gallery’s patrons scheme had increased as a direct result of the exhibition.

In relation to the academic legacy of the exhibition, it was confirmed that this took the form, first and foremost, of the catalogue, but that the exhibition had also been accompanied by academic conferences, papers from which would, it was hoped, be published in due course. There had been a particularly enlightening debate at the Technical conference about the relationship between the Gallery’s version of The Virgin of the Rocks and the version lent by the Louvre.

The Exhibitions Curator said that, as a result of exceptional public demand for this exhibition, a number of Gallery systems had been put under considerable pressure, and at the end of the exhibition a series of review meetings had been held to ascertain what lessons could be learned which might be relevant to future very popular exhibitions. It was  reported that lessons had emerged in relation to the management of ticket queues, signage, numbers of tickets sold in to each person in the queue, complimentary tickets, special arrangements for disabled visitors who could not be expected to queue and other related matters.

In relation to the profile of visitors to the exhibition, the Board noted with interest that 18% of those attending were first time visitors to the Gallery, and that 92% of those attending regarded the exhibition as having represented good value for money.

It was also noted that a film specially created at the end of the exhibition, entitled Looking back on Leonardo was now on the Gallery’s media channel.

The Board congratulated all those involved in this exceptional exhibition.

Corporate plan 2012-13

8. The Head of Finance presented the Corporate Plan for 2012-13 which she confirmed set out the Gallery’s strategic objectives for the next 3 years, with a particular focus on the year ahead. She reminded the Board that they had seen, at their March meeting, a fuller version of the action plans described in the Corporate Plan, which the Board had suggested should be condensed and made more focussed. The Plan also contained a budget for the current financial year and an overview of the projected financial position for the next three years. She drew attention to the volatility of exhibition income, year on year. She confirmed that the current year’s contingency provision of £850k included an allowance of £150k in relation to the final stages of staff restructuring. She also highlighted the risk of possible further cuts to grant in aid, particularly in the years 2013-14 and 2014-15. The Head of Finance answered questions about levels of self generated income raised. The Board approved the corporate plan, subject to minor drafting changes. 

Minutes of committees of the Board

9. The Board noted the minutes of the Audit and Finance committees on 22 March. The Chair of the committees reported that a special meeting of the Audit Committee scheduled for the morning of 17 May, and intended for discussion of the external security report commissioned by the Gallery, had been deferred pending completion of management’s response to the report.

Information has been excluded under s 31 Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Trustees' introduction to the National Gallery review

10. The Board approved the Trustees’ introduction to the National Gallery review, subject to two suggested modifications.

Any other business

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

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.

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