Skip to main content

Minutes of the Board of Trustees - May 2013

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 2 May 2013


Mark Getty (in the Chair)
Lance Batchelor
Gautam Dalal
Professor Dexter Dalwood
Professor David Ekserdjian (save for items 8-13)
Lady Heseltine
Hannah Rothschild
Charles Sebag-Montefiore
Monisha Shah
John Singer
Caroline Thomson (save for items 10-13)


Michael Hintze
Professor Anya Hurlbert
John Nelson

In attendance

Dr Nicholas Penny (Director) save for part of item 5)
Dr Susan Foister (Director of Public Engagement and Deputy Director) items 1-3 and 6-11 (part)
Dr Ashok Roy (Director of Collections) items 1-3 and 6-11 (part)
Kate Howe (Secretary to the Board and Legal Counsel)
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
Caroline Campbell (Curator of Italian Paintings before 1500 and Loans Curator) items 1-3
Busola Osibogun (Interim Head of HR) item 7
David Commins (VSS Consultant) item 7
Cathy Putz (Exhibitions curator) item 8
Alexis Chapman (Interim Head of Finance) items 8-11 (part)

1. Pictures for treatment

The Chairman welcomed the Head of Curatorial to her first meeting of the Board.

The Board saw following completion of treatment The Magdalen, Netherlandish (NG719). The Head of Conservation reminded the Board of the work which had been carried out to the painting and drew attention to the fact that it was now displayed in a reconstructed 16th Century frame. Dr Susan Foister said that this was a painting which had not in the past generally hung on the main floor of the Gallery, but that following treatment she would like to hang it as an addition to the Netherlandish paintings on display.

The Board also saw following completion of treatment The Conversion of Saint Paul, Italian Ferrarese (NG73). The Director said that a new attribution for this work would be published in the near future. The Head of Conservation drew attention to the re- framing of the painting.

The board approved both paintings as ready to go on display.

The Board were shown The Virgin and Child with Two Angels by Giovanni Francesco da Rimini (NG2118), which was proposed for treatment. The Curator of Paintings before 1500 said that this was a painting which had been acquired by the Gallery in 1907; work had been done to the panel in 1998 but otherwise it had not previously been treated. She said that the painting could not be enjoyed by the public in its current condition, but that once treatment had been carried out, it could hang on the main floor of the Gallery when other paintings were out on loan. The Board approved the treatment proposed.

2. Declarations of Interest

Monisha Shah and David Ekserdjian declared interests as Trustees of Tate in loans proposed to Tate under agenda item 3. David Ekserdjian also declared an interest, as Trustee of the Public Catalogue Foundation, in a matter reported to the board for information in the Director’s report.

3. Loans out

The Board considered the loans out paper.

Information has been excluded under s 22 FOI 2000.

The Loans Curator drew attention to changes of dates of proposed loans. In relation to loans which were recommended for refusal, a Board member raised the question of whether all of these paintings were currently hanging on the main floor of the Gallery, and it was confirmed that this was the case. The Director said that in the case of a painting which did not hang on the main floor, the Gallery was more flexible about lending, but nevertheless it was noted that since every painting which went out on loan had to be accompanied by a suitable member of Gallery staff, there was always a constraint on the number of loans which could be agreed.

The Board approved all proposed loans from the collection.

The Director reported to the Board on an informal and preliminary approach concerning a possible loan of the Leonardo Cartoon (NG 6337). The Board indicated that they would not be willing to lend this work again, and that the previous loan to the Louvre had been an exceptional case, made as part of the Gallery’s collaboration over Leonardo, with the Louvre.

4. Minutes of 14 March and matters arising

The Board approved the Minutes of 14 March and the Chairman was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting.

Matters arising: the Director noted that a question had been raised by the Board in connection with the Gallery’s LED lighting, and proposed that a seminar on lighting issues should be arranged for the Board later in the year.

5. Director's performance objectives

In the absence of the Director, the Chairman reported to the Board that the Remuneration committee had met earlier in the day to consider the Director’s performance against agreed objectives for 2012-13; he reported on the views of the Committee. He also reported on a discussion by the Committee in relation to the review of the Director’s remuneration for 2012-13 (which had been deferred until the pay review for all other staff in the Gallery had been completed) and for 2013-14. It was agreed that the Remuneration committee should make a firm recommendation taking into account comments from the Board.

The Board discussed with the Director his proposed objectives for 2013 -14.The Board approved the objectives proposed, subject to minor amendments, and agreed an additional objective.

6. Director's report, events and visitor numbers

Director presented his written report to the Board. He updated the board on staff issues, including the appointment of David Commins as a Consultant  responsible for Visitor Services and Security (“VSS”)  in the Gallery, pending the arrival of the  permanent Director of Finance and Operations, Chris Walker, who had now been appointed but had not taken up his post. Pending the arrival of the new Director of Finance and Operations, the Director confirmed that the Interim Head of Finance was taking responsibility for buildings.

He reported that interviews for the post of Head of Development were scheduled to take place in early June.  

Information has been excluded under s 36 FOI 2000.

The Director of Public Engagement explained why there would be no schools programme in September as a result of the fact that the software for booking of all Gallery events was being replaced. One benefit of the new software would be that the Gallery would have greater information about schools making bookings, which would help it to bring in visits from schools in the most deprived areas. The normal programme of advertised lunchtime talks would also be suspended during September. She confirmed that the normal programme would recommence in October. 

7. Security

The Director introduced the Gallery’s VSS Consultant to the Board and invited him to say something about his prior experience in dealing with security.

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

8. Exhibition report, 'Seduced by Art'

The Exhibition Curator presented her report. She said that the relatively modest attendance figures at the exhibition in London belied the bigger impact of the exhibition internationally. The exhibition was now on display in Barcelona, where she said it looked very beautiful; and at the end of the period in Barcelona, it would move to Madrid. The Gallery was receiving a fee from each of these venues. She also reported that a contract had been signed to produce the exhibition catalogue in Mandarin for the Chinese market, which was a first for the Gallery. 

She reported on the audience research which had been carried out in relation to visitors to the exhibition in London. It was noted that 45% of visitors to the exhibition were first time visitors to the Gallery; many were specialists with a vocational involvement in photography. It was also reported that the average 'dwell time' of visitors to the exhibition was relatively high.

There was a discussion with the board of the possibility of further exhibitions of photography, and the importance of attracting back the first time visitors to the Gallery.

9. Information has been excluded under s43 2000

10. Update on DCMS funding

The interim Head of Finance presented the paper on further cuts and prospective cuts to grant in aid.  Cuts announced by DCMS on 20 March would amount to an additional 1% for 2013/14 and 1% for 2014/15. The Interim Head of Finance confirmed that the Gallery had been told of additional likely cuts to grant in aid in 2015-16 and had been asked to model how it would deal with cuts of between 5% and 15% in that year.

She tabled a paper indicating possible levels of self generated income in the Gallery in the three years commencing 2013/14 and there was a discussion of possible sources of finance for investment in new income generation activities. The Board were  reminded that reserves held by the Gallery were largely restricted to picture acquisitions and could only be accessed with Treasury consent, so were not available to help finance investment which might be required for new income generation.

11. Committees of the Board

  • In the absence of the Chair of the Audit and Finance Committees, the Board noted the minutes of the meetings on 14 March, reports of which meetings had been made to the Board at their meeting on 14 March.
  • The Chair reported on a meeting of the Nominations Committee earl;ier in the day where the vacancy would arise on the retirement of David Ekserdjian from the Board in September 2013 had been discussed. There was a discussion of the coverage of skills on the Board in a number of areas. The Chairman said that the Nominations Committee would reconvene in June and report back to the board thereafter.
  • In the absence of the Chair of the Development Committee, the Chairman reported on the recent signing of securing of agreements in relation to corporate sponsorship and development.

12. Trustees' Introduction to the NG Review

The Board approved the draft introduction to the National Gallery Review for 2012-13, subject to one minor addition.

13. Any other business

A member of the Board raised a question in connection with the installation of the Michael Landy exhibition. The Director confirmed that issues of health and safety and the use of barriers were still under consideration and that as well as taking advice from the Gallery’s own external health and safety adviser he was now going to consult with Tate, where they had experience of dealing with installations of this kind.

Information has been excluded under s 42 FOI 2000.

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

Read our Freedom of Information Policy