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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - October 2009

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 1 October 2009


Mark Getty, Chairman
Simon Burke
Gautam Dalal
Professor David Ekserdjian
Lady Heseltine
Michael Hintze
Professor Dame Julia Higgins
Lord Kerr
Patricia Lankester 
John Lessore
Lady Normanby 
Hannah Rothschild
Caroline Thomson

In attendance:

Dr Nicholas Penny (Director) 
Martin Wyld (Director of Conservation) 
Kate Howe (Secretary to the Board)
Dr Susan Foister (Director of Collections) for items 1 to 8 (part)
David Jaffé (Senior Curator) for items 1 to 8 (part)
Dawson Carr (Curator of Italian and Spanish 1600-1800) for item 1
Betsy Wieseman (Curator of Dutch paintings) for item 1 
Luke Syson (Curator of Italian paintings 1460-1500) for item 1
Larry Keith (Restorer) for item 1
Jill Dunkerton (Restorer) for item 1
Cathy Putz (Exhibitions Curator ) for item 7
Sarah Ward (Director of Public Affairs and Development) for item 8 (part)
Greg Perry (Director of Operations and Administration) for item 8 (part) to 13
Jane Ellis (Head of Finance) for item 8 (part) to 13

The Chairman reported on the retirement of James Fenton as a trustee of the Gallery on 16 September, and expressed the warm thanks of the Board for all he had done for the Gallery since 2002.  

Pictures for treatment

1. The Board saw following completion of treatment A Distant View of Dordrecht, with a Milkmaid and Four Cows, and Other Figures (“The Large Dort”) by Aelbert Cuyp (NG961), The Adoration of the Shepherds by Rembrandt (NG47), The Virgin and Child with Two Angels Italian, Florentine (NG2508) and View of the Venetian Lagoon with the Tower of Malghera by Francesco Guardi (NG2524) and approved all of them as ready to go back on display.

The Board were told that, in relation to NG961, the Conservation department had worked closely with the Gallery’s Scientific department in the course of the restoration, and that the findings of the Scientific department would be published in the Gallery’s Technical Bulletin.

Information has been excluded under s 22 FOI 2000.

The Board also saw on display in the Gallery, following completion of treatment, St Bavo about to receive the Monastic Habit at Ghent by Peter Paul Rubens (NG57), and approved the completed treatment.

The Board saw (for information only) following completion of treatment
Margaret, the Artist’s Wife by Jan Van Eyck (X6267 Groeningemuseum Bruges).

The Board saw and approved the treatment proposed for A Young Princess (Dorothea of Denmark?) by Jan Gossaert (NG2211).

Confirmation of re-appointment of David Ekserdjian

2.  The Chairman confirmed to the Board that David Ekserdjian had been re-appointed by the Prime Minister as a Trustee for a second term. The Board confirmed his continued appointment as a Trustee of Tate.

Loans Out

3. The Board approved the proposed loans from the Collection.

Picture Movements

4. The Board noted the report on picture movements.

Minutes of the last meeting and matters arising

5.  The Board approved the minutes of the meeting held on 4 June 2009 subject to minor corrections.  They were later signed by the Chairman.

Director’s report

6.  The Director reported to the Board on the appointment of Larry Keith as the new Director of Conservation. He confirmed that the Gallery’s new Director of Education, Information and Access and the new Director of Operations and Administration had both now taken up post.

The Director outlined the changes he proposed to make to the Gallery’s senior management groups and the board endorsed his proposal.

The Director reported on the success of the Gallery’s International Academic Conference, mounted to mark the publication of the 30th volume of The National Gallery Technical Bulletin.

The Director confirmed the selection of the Gallery’s next Associate Artist, Michael Landy.

Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000.

Exhibition report, Picasso: Challenging the Past

7.  The Exhibitions Curator reported on Picasso: Challenging the Past, which she said had been mounted prior to her arrival in the Gallery. She commented that her assessment was that it had been a great success on a number of fronts; in terms of financial contribution to the Gallery, visitor numbers, quality of visitor experience, quality of loans, reaching new audiences and scholarly insight and press coverage.

She made particular mention of the first use by the Gallery of a multimedia exhibition guide, which had been used by 21% of visitors to the exhibition and had been very popular with users. She said that an analysis of visitor numbers to the permanent collection on Friday Lates during the period of the exhibition and at other times suggested a very positive impact on overall visitor numbers, had been made by the exhibition.
With regard to commercial income generated from catalogue and other sales, the figures were slightly disappointing, and it was suggested that this pointed in part to the difficulty of correct pricing for catalogues.

The Exhibitions Curator also reported briefly on the Gallery’s free summer exhibition, Corot to Monet, which had been very well received, and had attracted 183,000 visitors. It was confirmed that the Gallery would be continuing with its strategy of free summer exhibitions.

Follow up to Board strategy weekend

8. Information has been excluded under s41 and 43 FOI 2000.

The Head of Finance outlined the proposed process for producing the budget for 2010-11. She said that on this occasion KPMG’s Operational Strategy group was going to assist the Gallery in the early stages of the process, acting on a pro bono basis. A junior associate of KPMG was also being seconded to the Gallery to assist for a period of two months, and his time would be charged to the Gallery on a cost basis. Gautam Dalal as a partner in KPMG declared an interest in this arrangement, and took no part in the discussion. 

Quarterly management report

9. The Board noted the quarterly management report to June 30 2009. The Head of Finance drew attention to a surplus of £572k in the three months to 30 June, resulting from lower than expected operating expenditure.

Audit and Finance Committees

10.   The Chairman of the Audit and Finance Committees presented the Annual Audit Committee report for the year 2008/9, the contents of which the Board noted.

Grant applications to the AFNGL and NGT

11.  The Board approved the making of proposed grant applications to the AFNGL in the amounts of $553,402.34, and $20,399 respectively. The Board further approved the application to the AFNGL to lift the restrictions on a grant of £97,000 already received by the Gallery, to allow the funds to be put towards production of any of the Gallery’s Schools Catalogues, rather than one specific volume.

The Board also approved the making of proposed grant applications to the NGT in the amounts of £16,800 and the sterling equivalent of $235,000 respectively.

Appointments to the Board of the AFNGL

12. The Board approved the re-appointment of Christopher Gibbs and Mark Getty as “A” Directors of the American Friends of the National Gallery, London Inc, such appointment to take effect from the end of the next annual meeting of the company. Mark Getty took no part in the discussion or the decision.

Coutts bank mandate

13.  The Head of Finance reported that the Gallery’s bankers had revised their procedures relating to the existing practice of banking of overseas cheques, and had asked that the Board approve the new procedures.

After due consideration of all the circumstances and on being satisfied that it was for the benefit of the Gallery and in the interests of the Gallery for the purpose of carrying on its business, to enter into:-

(i) a cheque negotiation facility (“the Agreement”) in the form produced to the meeting in respect of an arrangement with Coutts & Co (“the Bank”) whereby the Bank is willing to negotiate foreign currency cheques drawn overseas (“the Cheques”) for credit of an account in the Gallery’s name, allowing the Gallery to gain access to the funds prior to clearance of the Cheques subject to a limit of £50,000; and
(ii) all other documents referred to in the Agreement (including without limitation any security documents) together with any other agreements or documentation required by the Bank in connection with the Agreement from time to time
(together “the Documents”)

It was resolved that Jane Ellis, Head of Finance, be authorised to sign on behalf of the Gallery the Documents and to approve on behalf of the Gallery any amendments to such documents.

Nominations Committee report and minutes

14.  The Board noted the minutes of the Nominations Committee meeting on 7 September. The Chairman reported on a subsequent meeting of the Committee on 30 September. He said that the Committee recommended to the Board that a search should commence immediately to find a new Trustee with the skills and experience required to chair the Gallery’s Scientific Consultative group, to fill the vacancy which would arise when Professor Dame Julia Higgins retired from the Board in April 2010.

The Board approved this recommendation.  The Chairman said that Julia Higgins felt she should step down from the Committee and should not be involved in the search for her successor; the Board accepted her resignation as a member of the Committee and approved the appointment of Hannah Rothschild to sit on the Committee in her place.

Board dates to end 2010

15.  The Board noted the board dates to end 2010.

Any other business

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

Copies of previous Board minutes can be obtained from the Libraries and Archive department.

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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