'Thrilled and grateful': Florence Nightingale Museum to reopen - Museums Association

‘Thrilled and grateful’: Florence Nightingale Museum to reopen

The museum had previously announced that it would have to close indefinitely due to Covid
Covid-19 Reopening
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Eleanor Mills
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Some of the innovative displays inside the Florence Nightingale Museum
Some of the innovative displays inside the Florence Nightingale Museum

A Cultural Recovery Fund grant of £64,500, along with many private donations, has meant the Florence Nightingale Museum will be able to run monthly open weekends from June.  

In January, the London museum announced its indefinite closure, alongside a major staff restructure, as a result of the pandemic.

The grant has allowed the independent museum to cover its running costs for limited opening times. The London museum will run open weekends beginning on Saturday 5 June, which will continue on the first weekend of each month.

However, the reopening does not mean the museum is financially secure, said director David Green.

He said: "Without doubt, we face a tough year financially, given that we are an independent fee-charging museum, based on a central London hospital site that will be forever connected with the pandemic. Our visitor figures in recent years have been dominated by international visitors, such is Nightingale's global popularity, and we recognise these factors will hit both visitation and secondary spend hard, compared to the significant growth we had seen leading up to 2020.

“We envisage that competition for people's leisure time and disposable income will be tougher than ever within city centre sites, while many people will still be reluctant to use public transport, despite many studies proving it is safe. 

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“Our strategy has, therefore, had to be to try and control our overall costs, while offering some visitor access, thus reducing the financial deficit that we cannot help but forecast over 2021/22.  The 'weekend events' are part of a plan that also facilitates pre-booked group visits, school sessions and an ongoing digital offer, as well as our unique walking tour of 'Nightingale's London'.  If the sessions sell-out, we are keen and able to offer more and we are grateful that the Cultural Recovery Fund and Art Fund's Respond and Reimagine grants are supporting this approach.

“We're really excited to be seeing visitors and our volunteers again and the nursing community is thrilled and grateful that 'their museum' has been saved.”

A highlight of the open days will be the museum’s special exhibition Nightingale in 200 Objects, People and Places, which opened to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth in 2020.

The museum’s character performer, who plays the famous nurse, will also be on site when the museum is open.

“We are optimistic for our longer-term future, having recruited a new board and created the capacity to consider a new development plan, grounded locally, but with a greater international dimension,” said Green.

To coincide with Florence Nightingale’s birthday on 12 May, the museum will publish its own new versions of two of her books, Notes on Nursing and Notes on Hospitals, which helped to revolutionise nursing and hospital care.

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