Skip to main content

Minutes of the Board of Trustees - Thursday 10 September 2020

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 10 September 2020 at 2pm via Zoom


Lord Hall of Birkenhead (Chair)
Catherine Goodman
Dame Moya Greene DBE
Douglas Gurr
Katrin Henkel
Sir John Kingman
David Marks
Stuart Roden
Charles Sebag-Montefiore
John Singer
Molly Stevens


Rosemary Leith
Tonya Nelson

In attendance

Dr Gabriele Finaldi - Director
Dr Caroline Campbell - Director of Collections and Research
Dr Susan Foister - Deputy Director
Paul Gray - Chief Operating Officer
Victoria Hayes - Secretary to the Board and Head of Governance
Andy Hibbert - Director of Finance
Chris Michaels - Director of Digital, Communications & Technology
Anh Nguyen - Director of Development
Larry Keith - Head of Conservation and Keeper (for item 1)
RoseMarie Loft - Head of Human Resources (for item 7)

The Chair said that it was an honour now to be Chair of the Gallery. He thanked Sir John Kingman on behalf of the Board, the Gallery and personally for all he had done over the past months as Interim Chair.

The Chair congratulated Douglas Gurr on his appointment as Director of the Natural History Museum from 1 December. He said that he would remain a Trustee of the Gallery for the time being.

He congratulated the Director and the whole team on re-opening the Gallery to the public on 8 July and being the first major National to do so. He said that the DCMS announcement of an additional grant from the government would be reported later in the meeting.

1. Pictures for treatment

1.1. The Head of Conservation and Keeper joined the meeting from the conservation studio via Zoom. He showed the Board three paintings which had been cleaned and restored: Caspar Netscher’s 'Two Boys Blowing Bubbles' (NG843); and Giacomo Francesco Cipper’s 'Head of a Man in Blue' (NG5468) and 'Head of a Man in Red' (NG5469). The Board approved the paintings as being ready to go back on display.

1.2. The Head of Conservation and Keeper showed the Board two paintings for which treatment was proposed: Matteo di Giovanni’s 'The Assumption of the Virgin' (NG1155) and Godfried Shalcken’s 'An Old Woman Scouring a Pot' (NG997). The Board approved the treatment proposed for each painting.

1.3. Finally, the Board was shown Peter Paul Rubens's 'An Autumn Landscape with a View of Het Steen in the Early Morning' (NG66) which was undergoing treatment.

2. Declarations of interest

2.1. None.

3. Minutes of the meetings on 9 July and matters arising

3.1. The Minutes were approved

3.2. The Chair outlined plans for the Board strategy days scheduled for October.

3.3. The Chair reported that the Annual Accounts had not been laid before parliament before the summer recess, owing to delays by the NAO.  

4. Loans out

4.1. The Director of Collections and Research presented the paper, which was approved.

5. Information has been excluded under s.22, s.36 and s.43 FOI 2000

5.1-5.4. Information has been excluded under s.22, s.36 and s.43 FOI 2000.

6. Director's report

6.1. The Director presented his report.

6.2. The Director said that since reopening on 8 July, over 140,000 bookings had been made online; 100,000 for the Gallery; 33,000 for Titian and 7,000 for Artemisia. He said that average daily attendance was 1700, which was around 10% of pre-Covid visitors, and around 8% of visitors who would usually come in the summer months. He said that the Gallery could accommodate more, and the operations team were looking into extending capacity. He said that the visitor forecast was in the region of 1.5-2M against 6M pre-Covid.

6.3. Information has been excluded under s.43 FOI 2000.

6.4. The Director said that several new loans were being hung in the Gallery, including Salvator Rosa’s 'Self Portrait as Pascariello' (L1283) from the Capricorn Foundation, which was on display in the Julia and Hans Rausing Room. He said that seven important pictures had been lent by the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) while it was closed for refurbishment and Johann Zoffany’s 'The Sharp Family' (L1287) from a private collection, usually displayed in the NPG had also been taken on loan.

6.5. Information has been excluded under s.22 and s.36 FOI 2001.

7. Audience strategy 

7.1. The Deputy Director presented the paper.

7.2-7.6. Information has been excluded under s.22, s.36 and s.43 FOI 2000.

8. Workforce report

8.1. The Chair welcomed the Head of Human Resources to the meeting. The Head of Human Resources presented her paper.

8.2. She said that in preparation for staff moving into the Accommodation Hub, everyone had been equipped with a laptop and that the workforce was much more agile than it had been before Covid. She said that engagement remained good.

8.3. Information has been excluded under s.36 and s.43 FOI 2000.

8.4-8.5. Information has been excluded under s.22, s.36 and s.43 FOI 2000.

9. Update on Comprehensive Spending Review

9.1. The Director of Finance presented his paper. He explained that DCMS had requested the paper cover three scenarios.

9.2. Information has been excluded under s.43 FOI 2000

9.3. The Chief Operating Officer confirmed that the Gallery was considering additional ways of raising revenue, including a new outside café on the north terrace.

10. Annual Accounts

10.1. The Director of Finance explained that owing to the delay in the Accounts being laid before parliament, they had not yet been finalised, but that he didn’t envisage any substantive changes from the Accounts the Board had seen in July.

10.2. The Board agreed that final approval of the Accounts be delegated to the Audit Committee.

11. Management Accounts Summary

11.1. Information has been excluded under s.43 FOI 2000.

12. Committees of the Board and others reporting since the last Board meeting

12.1. The Chair of the National Gallery Company (NGC) gave a verbal update to the Board.

12.2. The Board noted the Minutes of the Digital Advisory Board held on 13 July.

12.3. The Board noted the Minutes of the Development committee held on 14 July.

13. Safeguarding Policy and Procedures

13.1. The Board approved the Safeguarding Policy and Procedures.

14. Grant applications to American Friends of the National Gallery, London (AFNGL)

14.1. The Board approved the grant applications to AFNGL.

15. Update to bank mandate

15.1. The Board approved the update to the bank mandate.

16. Modern Slavery update

16.1. The Board approved the Modern Slavery update.

17. Annual Freedom of Information report

17.1. The Board noted the Freedom of Information report.

18. Any other business

18.1. The Chair said that a campaign had been approved for three new Trustees and that he was waiting for confirmation from DCMS as to when the campaign would be launched.