Archives and records management policy

1)  Introduction

The National Portrait Gallery recognizes that its records are an essential business resource; and that their efficient management is necessary to support its core functions, to comply with its legal and regulatory obligations and to contribute to the effective overall management of the institution.   This paper sets out the policy with regard to all records created and managed by the Gallery as part of its everyday business.

2)  Scope

The aim of this policy is to provide a framework for managing the Gallery's records; to support the  development of a Records Management programme; and thereby to minimize the risk of breach of relevant legislation (see 4. Legal Basis).

This policy applies to all records created, received and maintained by the staff and employees of the National Portrait Gallery in the course of their work. 

3)  Definitions

A record is a document in any format that has been generated or received by the National Portrait Gallery in the course of its activities and has been, or may be, used by the Gallery as evidence of its actions and decisions, or because of its information content.   This does not include works in the primary, photographs, reference or library collections. Records can be held in any format including paper documents, photographs, e-mails, videos, slides, audio recordings, databases or any multimedia formats. 

Records Management is the strategic and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposal or preservation or records.

Archives are records selected for permanent preservation as part of the Gallery's corporate memory, and as a resource for research.

4)  Legal Basis

The records of the National Portrait Gallery are subject to, and therefore will be managed in accordance with, the following legislation:

  • The Public Records Acts, 1958 and 1967
  • The Museums and Galleries Act, 1992
  • The Data Protection Act, 1998
  • The Freedom of Information Act, 2000
  • The Requirements of HM Customs & Revenue

The National Portrait Gallery subscribes to The National Archives Standard for Record Repositories and, as part of its Records Management programme, the Gallery is working towards the Modernising Government Agenda, which states that all newly created public records should be stored and retrieved electronically.  Until issues relating to the management and long-term preservation of electronic records have been addressed, the current policy is for significant electronic records to be printed and stored in paper files wherever possible: this will be reviewed in 2010.  

5)  Statement of Principles


  • The National Portrait Gallery is committed to creating, keeping and managing its records in a manner that accurately documents its principal activities.  
  • It is committed to a culture of openness and access to information wherever possible, in accordance with statutory requirements. 
  • It fully supports a centralized and Gallery-wide Records Management programme that is based on national and international standards in the field (e.g. BSI ISO 15489:2001).

Ownership of Records

  • All records created and received by the National Portrait Gallery in the course of its business are owned by the National Portrait Gallery, and not by the individuals, departments or teams that create the records.
  • Records must not be removed from the offices of the National Portrait Gallery or used for any activity or purpose other than the Gallery's official business.

Purpose of Records Management

Records Management will help ensure that the Gallery:

  • Achieves its objectives 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; and to promote the understanding and appreciation of portraiture in all media.
  • Creates and captures authentic and reliable records to demonstrate evidence, accountability and information about its decisions, activities and collections.
  • Maintains securely, and preserves access to, those records as long as they are required to support Gallery operations, including audit purposes.
  • Identifies and protects the Gallery's vital records (ie. those records which would be needed to re-establish the business of the Gallery in the event of a disaster, and without which it could not operate)
  • Identifies and preserves securely those records deemed worthy of permanent preservation, thus protecting the Gallery's historical memory
  • Destroys other records once they are no longer required, thus ensuring the efficient use of Gallery accommodation.
  • Meets relevant record-keeping requirements, including the Public Records Acts 1958 and 1967, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 etc.

6)  Responsibilities

Effective Records Management is a shared responsibility.

Senior Management is responsible for approving and promoting compliance with Records Management policies and procedures, and supporting the implementation of a Records Management programme, throughout the Gallery.

The Archivist & Records Manager is responsible for delivering the operational activities of a Records Management programme, and for the development and implementation of related procedures and guidance.

Individual members of staff are responsible for creating and maintaining records in accordance with best practice.

7)  Procedures

Relevant best practice procedures can be found on the Gallery's network.  For advice on specific issues staff should contact the Archivist & Records Manager.

8)  Breach of Policy

Breaches of the Gallery's Records Management procedures will be dealt with in accordance with the Gallery's disciplinary procedure. 

9)  Review

The Archives & Records Management will be reviewed at least every five years (with interim reviews where necessary).  The next scheduled review if July 2013.

10)  Date of Approval

Approved at the meeting of the Board of Trustees on 10 July 2008.