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Archives and records management policy

1) Introduction

The National Portrait Gallery recognises 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.  This policy document can be found on the O: All Staff network drive and is available to the public through the NPG website.

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

Archivesare records selected for permanent preservation as part of the Gallery’s corporate memory, and as a resource for research.

Electronic Archive Drive (I) is a space on the Gallery network exclusively for Gallery records in electronic format that have been identified as having permanent historical value. The drive is accessible to staff but can only be added to by selected staff using appropriate procedures.

4) Legal Basis

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

  • 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

As part of the Records Management programme, the Gallery is  working towards compliance with the Lord Chancellor’s Code of Practice on the management of records issued under section 46 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Selected born digital records will be maintained electronically in the Electronic Archive Drive (I). While issues relating to the management and long-term preservation of electronic records are addressed, some significant electronic records will be maintained in both paper and electronic formats according to agreed retention schedules.

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 maintaining paper and electronic records in the long term and to preserve their authenticity, reliability, integrity and usability for future generations.
  • It is committed to a culture of openness and access to information wherever possible, in accordance with statutory requirements.
  • It fully supports a centralised 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 or networks 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 (i.e. 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 and electronic storage systems.
  • 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 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.

Heads of Departments are responsible for the ongoing maintenance and compliance with record keeping procedures in their departments.

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

7) Procedures

Relevant best practice procedures can be found on the O: All Staff drive on the Gallery’s network.  For advice on specific issues staff should contact the Records Manager or the Archivist.

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 Policy will be reviewed at least every five years (with interim reviews where necessary).  The next scheduled review is May 2019.   

10) Date of Approval

Approved at the meeting of the Board of Trustees on 2014.