Funding the National Gallery is a ‘dramatic scramble’ says director Nicholas Penny

This week sees the release of National Gallery, a documentary film about London’s National Gallery, directed by Frederick Wiseman. The current Director, Nicholas Penny, who announced his retirement earlier this year, has used the publicity surrounding the release of the film to highlight the often difficult tension between looking after the permanent collection (something that Penny has been outspoken about in the past) and making money out of the program of changing exhibitions. In an interview with the Evening Standard he said:

“I think that the ideal of public service is very much alive in the National Gallery but is quite often hard to reconcile with some of the more commercial things.”

“It is in tension with the very, very dramatic scramble we all have to engage in to compensate for the declining government grant.”

“We get so excited about the need to make [as much] money out of exhibitions as you possibly can that you begin to forget the permanent collection and the fact it’s supposed to be accessible free of charge.”

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