The National Portrait Gallery is an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and an exempt charity defined by Schedule 3 to the Charities Act 2011.
Our mission is to maintain a collection of portraits of the most eminent persons in British history, of other works of art relevant to portraiture and of documents relating to those portraits and other works of art.
Our statutory aims and objectives set out in the Museums and Galleries Act 1992 are:
(a) to care for, preserve and add to the portraits and other works of art and the documents in their collection;
(b) to secure that the portraits are exhibited to the public;
(c) to 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
(d) generally to 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.
Inspiring People, our ten-year strategic plan, sets out eight strategic objectives through which we will pursue and deliver our mission over the period 2017-27.
The Plan informs our internal planning and staff objectives.
Legal and Charitable Status
The National Portrait Gallery is exempt from registration with, and oversight by, the Charity Commission and is regulated by DCMS in accordance with a Management Agreement agreed by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for charity law purposes.
Government funding is received from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the requirements are laid out in the Gallery’s Management Agreement with the Department.
The National Portrait Gallery must self-generate 70% of the funds it needs to fulfil its mission and remain open and accessible to all. It has full charitable status in the UK and is able to receive Gift Aid in relation to any gifts or donations offered. Neither Inheritance Tax nor Capital Gains Tax are charged on gifts to the Gallery.
The National Portrait Gallery Company is a fully owned trading subsidiary of the National Portrait Gallery, which was set up to generate income that will help the Gallery to continue to meet its overall aims and objectives. Its Chair, Christopher Townsend OBE, attends Board meetings as an independent member.
The Gallery has one connected charity, the Portrait Trust (Charity no. 1148994; Company no. 08012443), which is independent and its activity does not impact on the Galley’s operating policies.
The Trustees of the Portrait Trust work closely with the National Portrait Gallery and have the aim of helping it to fulfil its mission for the public benefit.
On 6 March 2019 it was decided by the Trustees of the Portrait Trust that the charity would be closed, and all assets and liabilities transferred to the National Portrait Gallery. The process will be enacted in 2019-20.
The National Portrait Gallery is accountable to the public via Parliament for the services it provides. The Gallery publishes annual audited financial reports prepared in accordance with the Statement of Recommended Practice (the SORP) FRS102 (updated for reporting from 2016) and in compliance with the Accounts Direction issued by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The Board delegates the day-to-day running of the National Portrait Gallery to the Director, currently Dr Nicholas Cullinan, who has responsibility under the Board for the overall organisation, management and staffing of the Gallery.
The Director is appointed by the Board with the approval of the Prime Minister. He is the National Portrait Gallery’s Accounting Officer and is responsible to the Board for the general exercise of its functions.
The Director is assisted by the Director’s Group in setting strategic direction for the Gallery.
The Director’s Group formulates and monitors the National Portrait Gallery’s corporate plan, approves the Museum's policies, procedures, programmes and projects and has collective responsibility for the overall management of the Gallery. Where appropriate, decision-making responsibilities are delegated to other management groups.
The Board of Trustees meets quarterly to consider issues of strategic importance and to review performance against the Gallery’s Plan. Minutes of the Trustees’ meetings are routinely published on this website after they have been approved by the Trustees.
The Board of Trustees is supported by a series of Sub-committees and the National Portrait Gallery’s trading subsidiary.
Banner: Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery, 2017 (Rob Dickins; Brian Allen; Rachel Wang; Joanna Kennedy; Sir Michael Hintze; Rosalind ('Polly') Blakesley; Christopher Mark Le Brun; Sir William Proby; Dame Carol Mary Black; Kim Evans; Allegra Berman) by Jillian Edelstein, archival pigment print, 5 July 2017 © National Portrait Gallery, London
View a wide collection of video content on our YouTube channel from past projects to our latest films.
Artist and sitter interviews
Get insights into creating portraiture from BP Portrait Award 2020 artists and their sitters.
Watch our film created to say ‘goodbye’ to the Gallery before we closed for our major transformation project.