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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - October 2006

Meeting held Friday 6 October 2006 

Minutes of the last meeting and matters arising

1. The Board approved and the Chairman signed the record of decisions taken in September arising from the circulation of the papers after the meeting itself was cancelled. 
There were no matters arising.

Director’s report

2. Exhibitions:  the issue of exhibitions with a modest target figure for attendance was raised.  It was agreed that the Director of Resources would make a presentation to the November Board on exhibition attendance and income. 
The redisplay of the 19th-century collection was proving very popular.  It had been effectively promoted inside and outside the Gallery, had attracted sponsorship, and seemed to be successfully showing all the appeal of a new exhibition.  It would be monitored to see what lessons might be learnt for other areas of the presentation of the permanent collection.     
'Cézanne in Britain' was receiving good press coverage. 

Masterplan: future development of the collection

3. The Board accepted the proposal that the development of the West Wing should take precedence over that of St Vincent House taking care not to allow the former to compromise the latter, which would almost certainly follow in the longer term.  They expressed some concern about the possible complexity of the gallery lay-out which might be created as a result and the number of entrances and floor levels involved.

Trustees asked that, in taking forward the West Wing scheme, the Gallery and Masterplan Committee consider carefully:

  • the use of space thus gained for the collection, its impact on the presentation of the collection as a whole and visitors’ circulation round it, bearing in mind that this should be kept as clear and uncomplicated as possible with easily navigable links between floors;
  • costs and funding possibilities including the advisability of carrying out the work in phases, each phase only to be embarked upon when fully funded;
  • the impact on running costs and the need to cover any increase; and
  • the desirability of completing the air-conditioning of the main floor galleries to ensure the flexibility which the West Wing scheme was designed to make possible.

They asked to be shown a comprehensive plan using the additional space and demonstrating its added value for the presentation of the collection and the way it would be experienced by the Gallery’s visitors. 
The Director suggested that an architectural competition might produce a cheaper but still acceptable scheme although costs would inevitably remain high since an historic building was involved.   
A further report would be made to the Board at a later date.

Comprehensive Spending Review consultation

4. The Board noted the response to the consultation paper. The Chairman raised the issue of visitor satisfaction and stressed the importance of and need for up-to-date visitor research.

Minutes of Committees of the Board

5. The Board noted the minutes of the meeting of the Audit Committee held on 12 July 2006 and accepted most of the Committee’s recommendations.
The Board noted the minutes of the meeting of the Finance Committee held on 12 July 2006.

Potential acquisitions

6. The Board noted a number of possible acquisitions and considered the strategies open to them for raising funds if necessary.

Loan requests

7.  The Board agreed to the loan requests, including those with qualifications, as put forward in the Senior Curator’s paper; endorsed the Gallery’s decisions to decline to lend; and noted the request for a picture on loan to the Gallery.  
The Board decided not to lend two important Renaissance paintings, NG189 and NG6420, mainly on account of their fragility and importance to the collection.

Spoliation, restitution and NMGs

8. Consultation paper:  the Board approved the Gallery’s draft response with one suggested amendment at item 10 as follows: that the cut-off date for claims should be 10-15 years from now rather than 2045 or beyond. The Board endorsed the proposal at item 5 that, if and when necessary, restitution should override conditions of gifts and bequests.

The American Friends of the National Gallery, London

9. Change of status:  the Board noted that due to legislation this summer in the United States, AFNGL would probably have to change its status as a Type III supporting organisation. The Board favoured the first option, becoming a publicly supported charity, of those apparently open to AFNGL, should that turn out to be a possible alternative.  A further report would be made to the November Board following the AFNGL’s annual meeting at end October.

The Board authorised the Gallery to make an application to AFNGL for a grant of $187,000, to be paid in instalments, towards the publication costs of the National Gallery catalogue, 'The Sixteenth-Century Italian Paintings, Volume II', by Dr Nicholas Penny, in the knowledge that a generous donation to AFNGL from the Holly and Arthur Magill foundation would make this grant possible.

Pictures for treatment

10. The Board agreed that the following pictures were ready to go back on show after treatment:
'Philip IV hunting Wild Boar (La Tela Real)' by Diego Velázquez (NG197)
'The Vision of Father Simón' by Francisco Ribalta (NG2930)
'The Virgin and Child with a Donor' by Andrea Previtali (NG695)
'Portrait of a Man' attributed to Raffaellino del Garbo (NG3101) and
'The Virgin and Child' by Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano (NG2506)
with warm congratulations to the Director of Conservation for his work on NG97.
The Board approved the treatment proposed for 'The Virgin and Child' by Benvenuto di Giovanni (NG2482). 
The Board noted the treatment carried out on L596 on loan to the Gallery from a private collector.

Picture movements

11. 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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