National Portrait Gallery IT chief Louis Brady is prepared for the cuts

“I’m always looking at ways of making things better,” says Louis Brady, head of IT at the National Port­rait Gallery. “In the last three years we have upgraded the infrastructure and hardware so that the National Portrait Gallery has a firm foundation and the IT needs to be almost invisible.”

The National Portrait Gallery (NPG) has a mission statement that defines its role in our national culture: ‘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 in St Martin’s Lane, London has the largest collection of portraits in the world, with the bulk of its collection on display at the site behind Trafalgar Square. Established in 1856, the NPG also shares its collections with the ­National Trust and has travelling displays.

Funded by the government, in recent years the NPG has also worked closely with companies, trusts, foundations and individuals to ensure it has the right levels of funding required to preserve the collection.­ Although the main gallery is free to visit, it also has revenue streams from special exhibitions, shops, catering and an events business. Director Sandy Nairne has pushed the NPG’s involvement in education and research into portraits, which has included a digitisation programme to make its collections available on the internet. In 2009, 1,961,843 visitors visited the gallery.

“When I came here the role was to upgrade the infrastructure as it was old and needed to be replaced and the budget was already in place,” Brady says of his role as at the NPG, which he joined in 2007.

“I did an audit and I found a lot of the servers needed to be replaced, so I put in VMware, which really gave us some breathing space. We also introduced Office 2007 to improve usability standards and introduced a power management tool so that at 10pm all the PCs are patched and then powered down.” He also introduced a new FTP server, storage area networking, Microsoft SQL databases, a new telecoms network and brought Sophos in to help with the chronic levels of spam that the gallery was receiving.

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