NPG - Signed Minutes of the Board of Trustees Meetings

Scope and Content

Trustees play an essential role in the affairs of the Gallery. They are responsible for determining the policies and overall strategy for the organisation: they oversee all Gallery business. The constitutional position of the Trustees was established in 1856, by a Treasury Minute which founded the Gallery itself. The minute stated that 'Viscount Palmerston and the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggest to the Board that as the best mode of carrying into effect the intentions of Parliament the sum in question should be placed at the disposal of the Trustees, who will be responsible to the public for its application to the purposes of the grant'. Trustees are responsible for the way that money provided by HM Treasury is spent, but take on their responsibilities on behalf of the public in general.

Trustees are appointed by the Prime Minister. As recognised by the Museums and Galleries Act 1992, there are currently sixteen board members, of whom two, the President of the Royal Academy and the Lord President of the Council are ex officio.

The Board of Trustees is responsible for the following general matters: key objectives and targets; major decisions involving the use of financial and other resources; policies for such matters as personnel, health and safety, information, acquisitions and disposal, education, exhibitions, research, national and digital programmes.

It is also responsible for the following specific areas: approval of primary collection purchases and commissions; approval of the Corporate Plan and the three-year Business plan; approval of the Annual Report and Accounts; use and management of any trust funds; acquisition and disposal of land and buildings; approval of major building development proposals.

Trustee business is conducted, in the main, in meetings which are held four times a year. All meetings are minuted and the Minutes approved and signed by the Chairman at the following meeting. The Minutes may document any or all of the above detailed matters.

The Board of Trustees represents, therefore, the Gallery's highest decision making body and the Minutes of its meetings are one of its most significant institutional records. The series includes, for each meeting, the agenda and signed Minutes. Later minutes may also include Portraits on Offer and Loans Out from the Gallery.


The volumes are arranged chronologically in meeting order.

Access Information

Available to view by appointment in the Heinz Archive and Library Public Study Room, to make an appointment contact Archive Reception . Although records are generally available for public consultation, some information in them, such as personal data or information supplied to the Gallery in confidence, may be restricted.

Other Finding Aids

The complete catalogue for this archive can be searched via the NPG Archive Catalogue .

Alternative Form Available

Microfilm copies of the minutes dating from 1857-1923 are available for public consultation on microfilm in the public study room. The original records should be consulted only as a last resort. An electronic version of the Minutes of meetings since 2003 is available on the Gallery's website.

Conditions Governing Use

Personal photography is permitted for research purposes only. Photocopying is not permitted.

Appraisal Information

All material in this series is appraised as 'retain permanently'

Related Material

Draft minutes and papers of meetings of the Board of Trustees (1857-ongoing) (NPG2) - contains letters and papers discussed at Trustee meetings