National Portrait Gallery Trustee/Chair

Body: National Portrait Gallery
Appointing Department: Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Sector: Culture, Media & Sport
Location: London
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: Board appointments are not remunerated, but reasonable expenses are paid.
Time Requirements: The equivalent of two days per month, plus quarterly Board meetings, ad hoc meetings and an annual Review Day. The appointment is for a period of up to four years. The post is expected to begin in November 2017.


An announcement has been made on the outcome of this appointment.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP has appointed David Ross to the Board of the National Portrait Gallery for a term of four years, ending on 6 October 2021

View Announcement

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications

    27/06/2017 at 12:00

  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement



Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

The role

The Board of Trustees is seeking a new Trustee and specifically a person with the capability to chair the Board.


The Board of Trustees

The chief role of Trustees is to assist the Chair in meeting the Board’s overall responsibilities under the Charities Act and in accordance with the guidance issued by the Secretary of State. Trustees offer guidance and expertise on the Gallery’s strategy and its practical implementation. They must be positive advocates for the Gallery, representing it to ministers, officials at DCMS, and others. They must also assist the Chair in ensuring that the Gallery’s affairs are conducted with probity.

Trustees must be able to attend Board meetings and such other sub-committee meetings as may be necessary. Board meetings are normally held four times a year in London, with one additional review day. Some additional time will need to be devoted to ad hoc meetings, studying papers, attending events at the Gallery and occasional visits to regional partnerships.


Person Specification

Chair specification

The new Chair will naturally need enthusiasm for the Gallery, a love of art and an interest in the Collection, an ability to champion the importance of scholarship to the future of the Gallery and a strong interest in its learning mission and to act as an ambassador for the Gallery. They will need to devote sufficient time and energy to have the necessary impact, and a clear understanding of any potential for conflict of interest between this public role and their own professional activity.

The Gallery is looking for a candidate who will:

  • Be a person of significant standing with a high profile background in either the arts, academic, creative, commercial, voluntary or public sector.
  • Have the ability and expertise to work with and lead a diverse Board of a major national institution.
  • Have an understanding of, and commitment to, the vision and values of the National Portrait Gallery and its future development, particularly the Inspiring People project. Experience of being involved in a capital project in the past is desirable.
  • Have the ability to act as an inspirational advocate for the Gallery with government, senior policy makers, donors, sponsors and supporters.

Additionally, the successful candidate will be able to demonstrate the following other essential criteria:

  • An understanding of the diverse communities in the UK and a real commitment to promoting diversity.
  • Excellent communication skills with an ability to present to a range of stakeholders including the media.
  • An understanding of public life and the broader Arts market in order to help the Board to provide advice and opinions to staff on the development of the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection through the acquisitions and commissions process.
  • The ability to engage with the Gallery’s budgeting and financial planning.


Additional Information


Established in 1856, the aim of the National Portrait Gallery London is to promote through the medium of portraits the appreciation and understanding of the men and women who have made and are making British history and culture from the Tudors to the present day. We celebrate and encourage portraiture in all forms with a diverse programme at our Gallery and across London and the UK.

Founded on the principle that the paintings in the Collection should reflect the status of the sitter, not the artist, the Gallery has collected the likenesses of famous people in British history. Today, the Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world, and, as one of the country’s premier arts institutions, draws around 2 million visits each year.

The Primary Collection of paintings, sculptures, miniatures, drawings, prints and photographs contains some 11,100 portraits. Of these more than 4,150 are paintings, sculptures and miniatures, nearly 60% of which are regularly displayed at the National Portrait Gallery or elsewhere, including several houses managed by the National Trust. In addition, there are some 6,800 works on paper, shown on a rotating basis of about 300 items a year. The Gallery is always keen to find new ways to share the Collection through the National Programmes as well as through their website.

As with other national museums the government continues to support the Gallery but in reality this is decreasing and the Gallery increasingly needs to generate income from a considerable number of individuals, companies, trusts and foundations, as well as by the receipts from ticketed exhibitions, retail, catering, and events.

The Gallery aims to bring history to life through its extensive display, exhibition, research, learning, outreach, publishing and digital programmes. These allow the Gallery to stimulate debate and to address questions of biography, diversity and fame which lie at the heart of issues of identity and achievement.

The Gallery strives to be the foremost centre for the study of and research into portraiture, as well as making its work and activities of interest to as wide a range of visitors as possible.

Following a period of unprecedented growth, the continuing challenge is to strengthen the organisation and reduce areas of risk. At the same time the Gallery is developing the imaginative and distinctive aspects of its display, exhibition, education, research and access programmes, with a greater national presence and an increased recognition of the quality of its work and its collections, and the skills and knowledge of its staff.

Following the launch of the Ondaatje Wing in 2000, the Gallery has increased the number of visits year on year, including over the last few years, despite the unfavourable economic climate and difficulties with international tourism and travel. The National Portrait Gallery has free admission and there are now around 2 million visits each year to the St Martin’s Place site and the Gallery employs around 258 permanent full time equivalent staff, with an average annual turnover of £16 million. The Gallery raises 60% of annual income from fundraising initiatives, retail and rights and images, ticket admission on exhibitions, catering and some learning programmes.

The Gallery has also demonstrated its ability to make acquisitions of national importance, such as the portraits of John Donne and Sir Anthony van Dyck, to revitalise its regional work including Montacute and Beningbrough, two National Trust regional partnerships, to establish new sponsorship partnerships, and to collaborate on major projects.  To continue with such successes, while coping with limited staff and resources, requires a determined sense of direction, clear planning and continued efficiency across the institution as a whole.

The Gallery is now embarking on a period of renewal under Inspiring People, transforming the National Portrait Gallery – a major capital project which will deepen understanding and enjoyment of the Gallery’s remarkable collection of portraits and broaden its appeal to the widest possible audiences. It will do this through a transformed building that will be more attractive and welcoming and will include improvements to the facilities, the creation of a new Learning Centre with a number of studio spaces, the renewal of the Collection displays and interpretation and the development of a broader digital and national programme.


About the National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery’s core purpose is to:

  • care for, preserve and add to the works of art and the documents in its Collection;
  • ensure that the works of art are exhibited to the public;
  • ensure that the works of art and the documents are available to people seeking to inspect them in connection with study or research;
  • generally promote the public’s enjoyment and understanding of portraiture of British people and British history through portraiture both by means of its Collection and by such other means as it considers appropriate.

The Gallery’s eight strategic objectives are:

1. To extend and broaden the range of audiences for the National Portrait Gallery and its work through participation and learning activity, a higher national and public profile, and an effective communication strategy.

2. To develop the Collection, creating opportunities for acquisition and commission, while improving its care and conservation.

3. To increase the understanding of and engagement with the Collection and the art of portraiture through outstanding research, exhibitions and displays, publishing, learning, regional and digital programmes.

4.To make the Gallery a national hub for sharing ideas and expertise about portraiture with a dynamic centre for learning in London and a skills sharing network across the country.

5. To create a digital presence which connects, inspires and engages audiences, where it is not seen as the remit of a single department, to one where all teams have digital activity as a core part of their working strategy.

6. To maximize the financial resources available through both public and private sector support, trading and licensing and through the effective management of the Gallery’s assets and resources.

7. To develop staff as an essential resource through the extension of staff diversity, training, development and learning programmes, upgraded internships and a volunteer programme.

8. To physically open up the Gallery building to make the Collection and programme more visible, accessible and welcoming and to bring the buildings, technical and managerial infrastructure of the Gallery to the highest standards, including processes, systems, collection storage and staff accommodation.


Current Board members:

  • Sir William Proby Bt CBE DL (Chair)
  • Dr Brian Allen
  • Ms C Allegra Berman (Chair of the Investment Committee)
  • Professor Dame Carol Black DBE
  • Dr Rosalind (Polly) Blakesley
  • Rob Dickins CBE
  • Ms Kim Evans OBE
  • Ms Joanna Kennedy OBE
  • Sir Michael Hintze
  • Christopher Le Brun (President of the Royal Academy)
  • Dr Andrew Roberts
  • David Ross (Chair of the Audit and Compliance Committee)
  • Björn Savén
  • Sir Peter Stothard
  • Rachel Wang
  • The Rt Hon David Lidington MP (Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council)


How to Apply

Applications should be made by submitting a CV and supporting statement of two pages maximum which sets out how you meet the essential criteria of the role.

You should state clearly how you meet the criteria outlined in the person / role specification.

You should also complete the Conflicts of Interest Form and the Monitoring Form. The Monitoring Form will be kept separately from your application and Conflicts of Interest Form, and will not be seen by the selection panel in order to meet the Cabinet Office’s Governance Code on Public Appointments.

Please return your completed applications to and put ‘NPG Chair’ in the subject line.

The panel sift will take place on 03/07/2017 and interviews will take place on 20/07/2017. Please note that all shortlisted candidates will be required to attend an informal meeting with some existing Trustees and members of the executive team at the National Portrait Gallery on 17/07/2017.

If you have any questions about the Public Appointments process please contact:

Joseph Bondatti
Public Appointments
4th Floor
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
100 Parliament Street
London SW1A 2BQ

T: 020 7211 6280

For information on the role and the National Portrait Gallery please contact:

Gabriella Swaffield
National Portrait Gallery
St Martin’s Place
London WC2H 0HE

T: 020 7312 2477

DCMS promotes an equal opportunities policy. As black and minority ethnic (BME) candidates are currently under-represented in this area, we would particularly welcome applications from BME candidates. All appointments will be made on merit, following a fair and transparent process, in accordance with the Cabinet Office’s Governance Code on Public Appointments best practice. Applications are welcomed regardless of gender, age, marital status, disability, religion, ethnic origin, political opinion, sexual orientation or whether or not you have dependents.

Please note, the appointment of the successful candidate as a Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery will be made by the Prime Minister and is regulated by the Office for the Commissioner of Public Appointments (OCPA). The appointed Trustee will then be elected as Chair of the National Portrait Gallery by the existing Trustees.


COI Guidance for Charitable Museums and Galleries
Conflicts of Interest Form
Conflicts of Interest Guidance
OCPA Complaints Procedure (2016)
OCPA Feb 2017 Monitoring Form
NPG-Trustee-Chair-Role-Specification-April-2017 (1)
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