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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - Thursday 21 September 2017

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 21 September 2017


Hannah Rothschild (in the Chair)
Professor Dexter Dalwood
Katrin Henkel
Professor Anya Hurlbert
Sir John Kingman
Rosemary Leith
John Nelson
Charles Sebag-Montefiore
John Singer   


Lance Batchelor
Lord King of Lothbury
David Marks

In attendance

Dr Gabriele Finaldi - Director
Dr Susan Foister - Director of Public Engagement and Deputy Director
Larry Keith - Head of Conservation, Keeper and Acting Director of Collections 
Chris Michaels - Director of Digital
Chris Walker - Director of Finance and Operations
Kate Howe - Secretary to the Board and Legal Counsel
Dr Caroline Campbell - The Jacob Rothschild Head of the Curatorial Department (items 1–3)
Bart Cornelis - Curator of Dutch and Flemish Paintings (item 1)
Christopher Riopelle - Curator of Post 1800 Paintings (item 1)
Paul Ackroyd - Restorer (item 1)
Kristina Mandy - Assistant Conservator (item 1)
Louise Peckett - Head of Finance (item 9)
Rosalind Griffin - Head of Trusts and Individual Giving (maternity cover) (item 9)
Jane Knowles - Head of Exhibitions (item 10)

1.1. Pictures for treatment

1.1. The Board saw The Toilet of Venus by Guido Reni and Studio (NG90) following treatment and approved it as ready to go back on display.

1.2. The Board saw The Virgin and Child with Saint John and an Angel, Workshop of Sandro Botticelli (NG275) which was proposed for treatment. The Director of Collections said that this was a work which had not been cleaned since it was acquired in 1855 and that the treatment would provide an opportunity for detailed research into the painting. The Board saw A Bay Horse, a Cow, A Goat and Three Sheep near a Building, by Adriaen van de Velde (NG983) and Still Life with Bottle, Glass and a Loaf, Imitator of Jean-Siméon Chardin (NG1258) which were also proposed for treatment. The Board approved the treatment proposed for each of these works.

1.3. The Board saw Saint Michael triumphant over the Devil with Donor Antonio Juan by Bartolomé Bermejo (NG6553) which was in the course of being treated.

2. Declarations of interest

There were no declarations of interest.

3. Loans out

3.1. The Jacob Rothschild Head of the Curatorial Department presented the loans out paper and two risk assessments.

3.2. The Board approved all proposed loans out.

3.3–3.4. Information has been excluded under s36 FOI 2000.

4. Minutes of 13 July and matters arising

4.1. The Board approved the Minutes of 13 July and the Chair was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting.

4.2. In relation to matters arising the Chair reported that:-

  • 4.2.1. Information has been excluded under s22 FOI 2000.
  • 4.2.2. There was no update at this point in relation to the claim concerning Portrait of Greta Moll by Matisse; a decision was awaited from the Court in New York.

5. Director’s report

5.1. The Director presented his written report to the Board.

5.2. He drew the Board’s attention to the recently opened Degas exhibition, Drawn from Colour: Degas from the Burrell on display in Galleries B and C and to the fact that this was the first time these works had been exhibited outside Scotland as a group since they were acquired in the 1940s and that the exhibition catalogue represented the first time the entire collection had appeared in a single publication.

5.3. He also drew attention to the special rehang in Room 20 of works by Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael in the Gallery’s collections, which were displayed alongside the Michelangelo Taddei Tondo on loan from the Royal Academy until early 2018.

5.4. He also highlighted the rehang of the Gallery’s collection of Dutch and Flemish paintings in the North Galleries.

5.5. Information has been excluded under s41 and s43 FOI 2000.

5.6. The Director reported to the Board that Westminster Council had granted full planning permission for the One Gallery Accommodation Hub in August.

5.7. Information has been redacted under s 43 FOI 2000.

5.8. The Director drew the Board’s attention to the results of the recent Wayfinding and Signage project including newly designed external and internal signage across the Gallery.

5.9. Information has been excluded under s 22 FOI 2000.

5.10. The Director drew attention to visitor numbers in the year to date, highlighting the fact that they were down on numbers in 2016, which was consistent with other Zone 1 visitor attractions generally (and not merely other museums and galleries); he noted however that overseas visitor numbers were not down and the fall in numbers seemed to be in visitors from the UK.

6. Strategic plan

6.1. The Director presented to the Board a draft 5 year strategy plan, which he said represented a distillation of thought and discussion amongst the Executive team and Board over the last 2 years. Subject to Board comments, the intention was to finalise the document and bring it back to the Board for sign off.

6.2. The Director outlined the challenges and opportunities facing the Gallery and the main strategic choices which he proposed should determine the Gallery’s direction activities and direction over the next 5 years.

6.3–7. Information has been excluded under s36 FOI 2000.

6.8. The Board welcomed the draft plan.

7. In-Gallery income generation

7.1. The Director of Finance and Operations and the Director of Digital jointly presented the paper in relation to this matter

7.2–7. Information has been excluded under s43 FOI 2000.

8. Digital strategy progress update

8.1. The Director of Digital presented his paper. He reminded the Board that the new Digital strategy had first been presented to the Board two years ago, and reminded the Board of the ambitions set at that time.

8.2. He presented to the Board a proposed revised strategy.

8.3. Information has been excluded under s36 and s43 FOI 2000.

8.4. To achieve delivery of the revised strategy, he presented to the Board a new staffing model for the Digital Directorate, already approved by the Gallery’s Executive Committee and in relation to which recruitment was underway; he hoped to have new staff in post by mid-January.

8.5. He briefed the Board on some recent and current digital projects. He highlighted the SunflowersLive experience, created in partnership with Facebook and four other museums across the world, which had created a virtual exhibition of the five versions of Van Gogh’s 'Sunflowers' held in these separate museums; 6.5m users had visited the virtual reality exhibition.

8.6. The Director of Digital also briefed the Board in relation to the agreement reached between the Gallery and Smartify, which now enabled visitors to the Gallery, via download of the Smartify App, to use their mobile devices in the Gallery to access, via image recognition , the Gallery’s own published information about its paintings. Information has been excluded under s36 and s43 FOI 2000.

8.7. The Director of Digital also demonstrated the potential of a new big data platform which would enable the Gallery to better understand its visitors and their behaviour; it would facilitate automated reporting and assist with forecasting of visitor numbers including exhibition attendance.

8.8. The Director of Digital outlined the projected financial impact of the proposed new strategy, the projected impact on digital audience and strategic milestones for the next 18 months.

8.9. Information has been excluded under s36 and s43 FOI 2000.

8.10. The Board welcomed and endorsed the revised strategic direction.

9. Finance and Development report to 31 August 2017

9.1. The Head of Finance presented the finance report to 31 August. She reminded the Board that, at the time of the July Board meeting, the financial projections for the year had pointed to a significant year end deficit. The finance team had embarked on a comprehensive scrutiny of spending and income generation plans for the year, and she was happy to report that the revised projections now forecast a break-even position at the year end. She highlighted for the Board the significant budget changes, including savings made in one exhibition packing budget and the impact of the new exhibition ticket pricing model.

9.2. The Head of Trusts and Individual Giving (maternity cover) presented the development report to 31 August in the absence of the Head of Development. She reported that the department had achieved 82% of its income target for the year, in addition to raising out of budget income in support of acquisitions. She drew the attention of the Board to recently secured sponsorship.

10. Information has been excluded under s41 and s43 FOI 2000

11. Report on the Public Engagement Directorate

11.1. The Director of Public Engagement presented her report on work within the Directorate over the last year.

12. General Data Protection Regulations

12.1. The Board noted the briefing on the General Data Protection Regulations and the steps the Gallery was taking to ensure full compliance with the regulations by May 2018.

13. Committees of the Board

13.1. The Board noted the Minutes of the meeting of the Finance Committee of 22 June.

13.2. The Board noted the Minutes of the meeting of the Audit Committee of 22 June.

13.3. The Chair reported on a meeting of the Nominations Committee earlier in the day, reminding the Board that there was currently one Board vacancy to fill, and that another vacancy would arise in early March 2018 when Professor Anya Hurlbert’s second term of office as the Board’s Science Trustee would come to an end. She reported that the Nominations Committee recommended that a Scientist should be sought to replace Professor Hurlbert and to Chair the Gallery’s Scientific Consultative Group; and that in relation to the other vacancy it would be desirable to look for a Trustee with experience of public engagement, outreach and/or communities, to assist the Gallery in delivering its commitment to audience diversity. The Board endorsed this recommendation, and it was agreed that this proposal should be put to DCMS for Ministerial approval.

14. Any other business

14.1. There being no other business, the Chair declared the meeting closed.