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Statement of Public Task

This statement sets out the functions carried out by the National Portrait Gallery that are within the Gallery’s public task under the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005.

The Gallery’s public task is defined with reference to the relevant sections of the Museums and Galleries Act 1992 and related legislation. It also includes objectives set for the Gallery by its sponsoring government department and administrative practices for which the Gallery is responsible, but for which there is no specific statutory or regulatory provision, and the provision of general advice relating to portraiture and cultural heritage to the public sector in the UK.

For the purposes of its public task, the Gallery may carry out its functions directly, or through partnerships with museum and educational establishments internationally, and/or through Gallery associated companies or third parties.

The Gallery holds and uses documents for the following purposes within its public task:

  • The National Portrait Gallery shall maintain a collection of portraits of the persons who make, or have made an impact on British history and/or culture, of other works of art relevant to portraiture and of documents relating to those portraits and other works of art, and shall:
  • care for, preserve and add to the portraits and other works of art and the documents in their collection;
  • secure that the portraits are exhibited to the public;
  • secure that the portraits and other works of art and the documents are available to persons seeking to inspect them in connection with study or research; and
  • generally promote the public’s enjoyment and understanding of portraiture of British persons and British history through portraiture both by means of the Board’s collection and by such other means as they consider appropriate;
  • the production and publication of books, films or other informative material, whether in printed, filmed, digital or any other form of media, relating to portraiture of persons who make or have made an impact on British history and/or culture, or British history through portraiture;
  • the commissioning of portraits of persons who make and have made an impact on British history and/or culture;
  • the production of replicas or reproductions of such portraits, or of souvenirs;
  • the sale (whether or not at an hour when the collection is open to the public for viewing) of informative material relating to portraiture of persons who make or have made an impact on British history and/or culture or British history through portraiture, of replicas or reproductions of portraits of persons who make or have made an impact on British history and/or culture, or of souvenirs or other goods;
  • the licensing of rights for the commercial or non-commercial usage of its content in third-party media; and
  • the provision (whether or not at such an hour) of catering or car parking or other services or facilities for the public at any premises occupied or managed by the Board.

Additionally, the Gallery undertakes a rolling programme of research, being recognised as an Independent Research Organisation by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The above list is not exhaustive and the Museums and Galleries Act includes other roles in the Gallery’s public task not listed above.  Nevertheless, those tasks listed above have greatest relevance to its use of documents and are therefore included in this Statement.

The Gallery’s public task is further clarified in the About Us section of our website:

  • Founded in 1856, the aim of the National Portrait Gallery 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, and to promote the appreciation and understanding of portraiture in all media.

The Gallery’s public task is also incorporated within its six strategic objectives:

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

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, regional and digital programmes.

4. 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.

5. To develop staff as an essential resource through the extension of staff diversity, training, development and learning programmes.

6. To bring the buildings, technical and managerial infrastructure of the Gallery to the highest standards, including processes, systems, collection storage and staff accommodation.

This statement of public task is regularly reviewed and is due to be considered again in 2018.  If you have any queries on our public task statement, please email [email protected] or visit the Contact Us page of our website.

Nicholas Cullinan
April 2015


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