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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - Thursday 16 May 2019

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 16 May 2019 


Hannah Rothschild (Chair)
Professor Dexter Dalwood
Dame Moya Greene
Douglas Gurr (for items 1, 2 and 10.2-10.8)
Katrin Henkel
Sir John Kingman
Rosemary Leith
David Marks
Tonya Nelson
Charles Sebag-Montefiore
John Singer
Professor Molly Stevens

In attendance

Dr Gabriele Finaldi - Director
Dr Caroline Campbell - Director of Collections and Research
Dr Susan Foister - Director of Public Programmes and Partnerships (Deputy Director)
Paul Gray - Chief Operating Officer
Andy Hibbert - Director of Finance
Kate Howe - Secretary to the Board and Legal Counsel
Chris Michaels - Director of Digital
Julie Molloy - Managing Director of National Gallery Company Limited
Larry Keith - Head of Conservation and Keeper (for items 1 to 5)
Christine Riding - The Jacob Rothschild Head of the Curatorial Department (for items 1-5)
Letizia Treves - James and Sarah Sassoon Curator of later Italian, Spanish and French 17th Century Paintings (for item 1)
Bart Cornelis - Curator of Dutch and Flemish Paintings (for item 1)
Britta New - Conservator (for item 1)
Jane Knowles - Head of Exhibitions (for item 12)
Andrea Kingsley - Interim Head of Finance (for item 13)
Judith Kerr - Acting Head of Development (for item13)

One Gallery Accommodation Hub site visit

1.1. The Board visited the One Gallery Accommodation Hub site to see progress with the project.

2. Pictures for treatment

2.1. The Board saw in the conservation studio following completion of treatment A Dutch Yacht surrounded by many Small Vessels, saluting as Two Barges pull alongside by Willem van de Velde (NG978) following completion of treatment. The Head of Conservation and Keeper drew attention to the very successful restoration and also to the fact that the painting had been reframed in a 17th-century frame; it would in due course take its place on the main floor of the Gallery. The Board approved the work as ready to go back on display.

2.2. The Board also saw A Lady with a Fan by Ferdinand Bol (NG5656) which was proposed for treatment; the Head of Conservation and Keeper told the Board that the work had not been treated since it was acquired in 1940; the work would be carried out by the Gallery’s new Patrick Lindsay Conservation Fellow when he arrived in June. The Board also saw The Sacrifice of Isaac by Giovanni Battista Piazzetta (NG3163) which was proposed for treatment. He drew to the Board’s attention the fact that this was a substantially unfinished work by a remarkable Venetian painter; the last restoration of the work had been carried out before the painting was acquired by the Gallery, by the Bloomsbury artist Roger Fry. The painting had not been on display for several decades, due to its condition. The restoration proposed would involve removal of the very discoloured varnish and a careful restoration of losses. The Board approved the treatment proposed for both paintings.

3. Declarations of interest 

3.1. There were no declarations of interest

4. Minutes of 23 March and matters arising

4.1. The Board approved the Minutes of 23 March and the Chair was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting.

4.2. In relation to matters arising the Director reported:-

  • 4.2.1. Information has been excluded under s 36 FOI 2000.
  • 4.2.2. Information has been excluded under s36 FOI 2000.

5. Loans out

5.1. The Chair welcomed the Jacob Rothschild Head of the Curatorial Department to her first Board meeting and the latter presented the Loans Out paper.

5.2. Information has been excluded under s42 FOI 2000.

5.3. The Board approved all other proposed loans out.

6. Director’s report

6.1. The Director presented his written report.

6.2. He reported on the opening in the ground floor galleries of the 'Courtauld at the National Gallery' display; he told the Board that this comprised a selection of the Courtauld Gallery’s finest masterpieces. He also highlighted the opening in April of Sea Star, an exhibition of works by Sean Scully.

6.3. Information has been excluded under s43 FOI 2000.

6.4. The Director highlighted an imminent loan to the collection of 'Flora' by Francesco Melzi from the Hermitage Museum.

6.5. He drew the Board’s attention to the opening in the Sunley Room of the Take One Picture display of works created by schools in response to Joseph Wright of Derby’s An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (NG6496).

6.6. In relation to the Artemisia Visits tour, he reported on the very successful visit of the painting to the Sacred Heart Catholic High School in Newcastle upon Tyne and the careers afternoon held at the school to coincide with the visit, at which a number of female Gallery staff had spoken to pupils about the jobs they did in the Gallery. The next visit would be to Her Majesty’s Prison Send, although for reasons of security there would be no publicity around this visit until after it had taken place.

6.7. In relation to staff, the Director reported on the appointment of the Gallery’s new Director of Development, Anh Nguyen, who was due to start work at the Gallery in September.

6.8. In relation to visitor numbers, the Director reported on a very strong start to the year.

7. Proposed acquisition

7.1. Information has been excluded under s43 FOI 2000.

8. Report from the National Gallery Company (NGC)

8.1. The Managing Director (MD) of the NGC presented her written report which was noted by the Board. She highlighted strong retail performance in the year to 31 March 2019; she emphasised that the budget for the current financial year was now fixed, but the company was re-working the plan for the years 2020-2022 and this would be brought back to the NGC Board for consideration in due course. Information has been excluded under s43 FOI 2000.

8.2. The MD of the NGC gave a presentation on the company’s brand licensing and plans including impending launches of stores in China and branded cafes in Korea. In response to a question from the Board, she confirmed that a brand licensing strategy was in place, and she would be happy to discuss this with individual board members outside the meeting, or to bring it back to the full Board.

8.3. Information has been excluded under s36 FOI 2000.

8.4. The Chair welcomed the ambition in the plans and thanked NGC’s MD for the report.

9. Tea

10. Committees of the Board

10.1. The Board noted the Minutes of the Nominations Committee of 9 April. The Chair reminded the Board that the advertisement for three new Trustees was now open and would close at the end of May, with sifting of applications due to take place in late June.

10.2. This item was taken in closed session of the Board before agenda item 1. The Board noted the Minutes of the Remuneration Committee of 2 May. The Chair confirmed that the Remuneration Committee recommended that the Director receive a bonus of 25% of salary for the year to 31 March 2019, and the Board approved this recommendation.

10.3-8. Information has been excluded under s36 FOI 2000.

10.9. The Board approved the proposed amended Terms of Reference of the Development Committee. The Chair of the Committee reported that new members were being sought for the Committee.

10.10. The Chair of the Digital Advisory Group reported on the most recent meeting of the Group and said that at that meeting the Group had asked for a three year plan to be developed and presented to them. Information has been excluded under s36 FOI 2000.

10.11. The Chair of the Masterplan Committee reported that works to Room 32 were currently on track to be delivered on time and to budget, The One Gallery Accommodation Hub was currently due to complete three weeks later than originally planned, and it was essential to avoid further time creep. He said the team from the Gallery were fully on top of the detail. Information has been excluded under s36 FOI 2000. In response to a question from the Board about management of fire risk in the site area, the Chief Operating Officer confirmed that the site had its own fire detection system, linked to the control room.

11. Brand Communications Strategy

11.1. The Director of Digital presented the Brand Communications Strategy and proposals for the first phase of implementation. He outlined for the Board why the Brand Communications Strategy was being developed and what it aimed to achieve. Information has been excluded under s36 2000.

11.2. Information has been excluded under s36 FOI 2000.

11.3. The Board welcomed the strategy as the start of a process and approved the proposals for the first phase of implementation.

12. Exhibitions programme 2018 annual report

12.1. The Head of Exhibitions presented her report on exhibitions in 2018, highlighting for the Board that this was the first time they had received a report in this form and reminding them that this annual report was intended to replace the reports on individual exhibition performance which they had received in the past. She also reminded the Board that 2018 had been the last year covered by the previous Exhibition Strategy, and that the new strategy had started in 2019. She reported that in 2018 over 1.7m visitors had visited National Gallery exhibitions held at Trafalgar Square, nationally and internationally. She reported on the overall very positive financial out-turn of the programme against budget; she said that 2018 had been a year of strong exhibitions at other institutions in London and that this made the strong financial performance of exhibitions at the Gallery all the more pleasing.

12.2-12.3. Information has been excluded under s36 and s43 FOI 2000.

12.4. The Board strongly welcomed the report.

13. Management Accounts Report and Development Report

13.1. The Board noted the Management Accounts Report. The Interim Head of Finance reported on the provisional anticipated outturn for the year to 31 March 2019 and to the key elements which had contributed to the anticipated surplus.

13.2. The Acting Head of Development presented the Development Report, drawing to the attention of the Board the fact that the Department had currently achieved 54% of their target for the year. She highlighted gifts received in support of the One Gallery Accommodation Hub project.

14. Trustees' introduction to the National Gallery Review

14.1. The Board noted the draft introduction and the Chair invited them to send any comments to the Board Secretary.

15. Any other business

15.1. Information has been excluded under s36 FOI 2000.

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