Collection NameTate Public Records: Directors
Reference Number (click the number to browse all records in this collection)TG 2
Alternative Reference NumberGB 70 TG 2
Access StatusOPEN
LocationRed Zone
DescriptionScope and content: correspondence with statutory and official bodies, 1927-1987; correspondence with individuals, 1965-1969; correspondence with UK museums and galleries, 1932-1968; correspondence with foreign museums and galleries, 1912-1960; correspondence with institutions, 1939-1965; miscellaneous correspondence series, 1934-1968; subject files, 1914-1949.
ArrangementThe archive has been listed according to the principles set out in the General International Standard Archival Description (ISAD(G)) and to guidelines issued by the Public Record Office. The list comprises the file reference, dates, title and brief description. Archives relating to the Director's office have been given the class number TG 2. Material in this class has been listed down to file level.
Related MaterialSee also TG 15 for staff records of individual directors.
Administrative HistoryThere have been nine Directors and Keepers of the Tate since its foundation in 1897. The post was originally held by a Keeper who was under the authority of the Director of the National Gallery. The establishment of a separate Board of Trustees for the Tate in 1917 was accompanied by an upgrading of the post to Director. The Director became the accounting officer for the Gallery following the National Gallery and Tate Gallery Act 1954.
Charles Holroyd (1897-1906)
D.S. MacColl (1906-1911)
Charles Aitken (7 Mar 1911-23 Mar 1917)
Charles Aitken (24 Mar 1917-31 Jul 1930)
J.B. Manson (1930-1938)
John Rothenstein (knighted in 1952) (1938-Sep 1964)
Norman Reid (knighted in 1970) (1 Oct 1964-Dec 1979)
Alan Bowness (knighted in 1988) (Jan 1980-31 Aug 1988)
Nicholas Serota (knighted in 1999) (1 Sep 1988-31 May 2017)
Maria Balshaw (1 June 2017-present)
Custodial HistoryThe Director's office formed the core of the Gallery's administration for much of its early history. Prior to 1917 the Tate's records were the responsibility of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. The minutes of Board of Trustees meetings before 1917 consist of extracts copied from the National Gallery Board minutes. There are few acquisition files or other records from this period. Although runs of files do start in the 1920s, many of these were either damaged of destroyed in the flood of 1928.
The staff of the Gallery in its early years was very small. In 1897 it consisted, apart from attendants and police, of the Keeper and his clerk. In 1921 an additional assistant was appointed. After 1941 the administrative staff of the Gallery reverted to the Director and one administrative assistant. By 1954 it had grown to include the Director, two deputy keepers, two assistant keepers, an executive officer and a librarian. The Publications Department, run as a separate concern by the Trustees, financed another three junior administrative posts in the Gallery.
Because of this early lack of specialisation the earliest extant administrative files are labelled general correspondence and miscellaneous correspondence. These cover matters such as purchases declined, loans, copyright, general enquiries and bequests. Subject files dealing with topics such as the war and opening hours were also kept. Many of the tasks initially undertaken by the Director's Office have now passed to other departments, e.g. bequests now form part of the Collections filing. By the early 1990s it was recognised that the records of the Director's Office needed to be re-organised and a system was put in place which classed records into five core areas: statutory and official bodies; individuals; UK museums and galleries; foreign museum and galleries; institutions. These classes have been used to form the basis of the archival arrangement of the Director's Office records.
Add to My Items