I am sure that Julie Ward's recollection of her visit to the National Gallery as a teenager is reliable, but she has misunderstood the reasons for the changes we are making. These are determined by our need to maintain free access, to extend the services and improve the education we provide, as well as to generate income and encourage support at a time when the government grant is reduced.
There have been some fantastic art exhibitions this year and the popularity of box office draws such as Rembrandt and Matisse warms the heart. However as I compiled this list, I couldn't help but notice that the list is dominated by white men - a sore reminder that diversity and representation remains a challenge that must be addressed...
The announcement that Titian's Diana and Callisto has been acquired for the nation is a cause for huge celebration. Not just the fact that a masterpiece will not be going abroad - but also for what it shows about our cultural institutions. Many people thought I was wrong to make boosting philanthropy the mainstay of arts policy. But in difficult times I thought it was right to focus my energies on helping to stabilise the finances of the country's cultural fabric - which I passionately believe is one of our greatest assets.
If anything the commercial success of an exhibition like Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan, is evidence of the need for more, not less, funding investment for the Arts.