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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - Thursday 21 May 2020

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 21 May 2020 at 2pm via Zoom


Sir John Kingman (Interim Chair)
Catherine Goodman
Dame Moya Greene DBE
Douglas Gurr
Katrin Henkel
Rosemary Leith
David Marks
Tonya Nelson
Stuart Roden
Charles Sebag-Montefiore
John Singer
Molly Stevens


Lord Hall of Birkenhead (Chair Designate)

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
Victoria Hayes - Secretary to the Board and Head of Governance
Andy Hibbert - Director of Finance
Chris Michaels - Director of Digital, Communications & Technology
Julie Molloy - Managing Director of National Gallery Company Limited
Anh Nguyen - Director of Development

The Interim Chair said that Tony Hall had sent his apologies for the meeting but would be attending the closed session of Trustees at the end.

He reported that this was to have been Charles Sebag-Montefiore and John Singer’s last meeting as their terms of office came to an end in June, but it had been indicated by DMCS that their terms may be extended by 8 months, as they had been with other ALBs. He said he would keep the Board updated once confirmation had been received.

He said that discussion of the proposed security strategy had been postponed.

1. Declarations of interest

1.1. None.

2. Minutes of the meetings of 11 March 2020, 26 March 2020 and 11 May 2020 and matters arising

2. 2.1. The Minutes were all approved.

2.2. Information has been excluded under s.22 and s.43 FOI 2000

2.3. The Director confirmed that it remained his intention to stage a concert in the Gallery before it re-opened, with some musicians from the London Philharmonic Orchestra, in the spirit of Myra Hess.

3. Update on plans for re-opening

3.1. The Director said that he had a few updates to the paper that Trustees had been sent. He said that following much discussion, the Gallery should be in a position to re-open on 4 July, which would be first among the other nationals.

3.2. He said that it would be a very different experience for visitors and with social distancing measures in place no more than a fifth of previous numbers would be able to visit at any one time. He said that he had been talking to colleagues in Berlin who were experiencing low visitor numbers.

3.3. He said that preparations were being made both for essential staff to return to the workplace and for the Gallery to open to the public. He said that the operations and Human Resources teams were working with the Trade Unions to ensure that everything required for re-opening was in place.

3.4. He reported that the detail of re-opening had not yet been worked through, but that the plan was to offer the four days between 4 and 8 July to patrons, Members and essential care workers and then to open to the general public on 8July, which also happened to be the birthday of Artemisia Gentileschi and would be a good opportunity to announce the revised 'Artemisia' exhibition dates.

3.5. He said that a press announcement was being planned for late June, possibly with the Secretary of State and that discussions were ongoing around opening hours, ticketing and communications. The Interim Chair congratulated the management team and said that re-opening first among the nationals reflected very well on themselves and on the institution.

3.6. A Trustee asked the Chief Operating Officer about air conditioning in the galleries which, he said, had much stricter guidelines since Coronavirus. The Chief Operating Officer said that he was in discussion with the Buildings and Facilities Team and that the filters could be changed to provide more fresh air. He said that fewer visitors would also help.

3.7. A Trustee commented that the necessity of online booking would provide useful data for the Gallery and could, provided data protection rules were followed, potentially be used to encourage new Members. The Director of Digital, Communications & Technology confirmed that it was a good opportunity to understand the behaviour patterns of visitors.

3.8. The Chief Operating Officer confirmed that the priority for the Gallery on re-opening was to ensure visitors and staff felt safe.

3.9. The Board approved the Gallery’s mobilisation plan in principle, subject to a final Board update before the Gallery re-opened.

4. Loans out

4.1. The Director said that the Gallery found itself in an unprecedented situation, along with museums and galleries all over the world, having exhibitions they couldn’t open and works they couldn’t return. He said that the Gallery had been inundated with requests for loan extensions and, in return, had been making its own requests and that the Exhibitions Team had been working extremely hard on a revised programme. He said that he had had to make some quick decisions, which he asked the Board to approve retrospectively.

4.2. The Loans were agreed. The Interim Chair said that the revised exhibition programme was an astonishingly complex feat to have pulled off and congratulated the team.

5. Director’s report

5.1. The Director said that much work continued despite the Gallery being closed. He reported that he had visited every team and that each member of staff was usefully employed, and morale was good.

5.2. He gave a presentation and said that he was particularly pleased with a partnership with Oceans Outdoors who had offered to display some of the Gallery’s masterpieces on their outdoor advertising boards throughout the UK.

5.3. Information has been excluded under s.22 and s.43 FOI 2000.

5.4. The Director confirmed that he hoped Gallery 32 would be ready in time for re-opening.

5.5. A Trustee congratulated all the staff at the Gallery for moving so quickly to ensure that as many exhibitions as possible could be re-scheduled and for producing so much online in such a short space of time. She said that putting together such detailed recovery and re-opening plans was very impressive, and she hoped that by opening first, the Gallery would be able to help other institutions when they started to re-open.

6. Verbal update on the Bicentenary

6.1. The Interim Chair said that this would be brought to the Board at a later date.

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

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

7.2. The Board noted the Minutes from the Masterplan Committee meeting held on 20 April.

7.3. The Board noted the Minutes from the Finance Committee meeting held on 17 April.

7.4. The Chair of the Digital Advisory Board updated Trustees on a meeting that had been held on 22 April.

7.5. The Board noted the Minutes from the Development Committee meeting held on 28 April.

8. Management Accounts Report and Development Report

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

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

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

9. Trustee introduction to Annual Review

9.1. A Trustee made an amendment to the sequence of paragraphs in the digital section of the report, which was approved. The Interim Chair asked Trustees to email any other comments to Victoria Hayes.

10. Any other business

10.1. None