Last year, we reported that London’s small, special-interest museums were struggling to survive the first national lockdown due to their dependence on admission fees from visitors for their income. Now the Florence Nightingale Museum has announced that it will be closed from February 28 ‘for the foreseeable future’, regardless of whether lockdown restrictions are eased.
Back in April, the museum’s director David Green told Time Out, ‘Our 2020 bookings diary was full with exhibitions and events. We enjoyed our busiest ever day in February half-term, but soon after, the effects of the pandemic kicked in and numbers started to fall… Prolonged closure and decimated tourist markets now threaten the future of the museum as we rely heavily on admissions income to support our small charity, which receives no core funding from the government or elsewhere.’
The Florence Nightingale Museum explores the famous nurse’s legacy – among its collections is a lamp she used during the Crimean war and a taxidermy of her pet owl Athena – but it also investigates the wider history of nursing in the UK, educating visitors on the work of British-Jamaican nurse and businesswoman Mary Seacole and Kofoworola Abeni Pratt, the first Black nurse to work in the NHS. It is one of the few museums in London dedicated to the achievements of women.
The museum operates as an independent charity and depends on visitors for around 95 percent of its income. The significant loss in visitor numbers means it will become financially insolvent before the market recovers. In a press release, the institution announced ‘a major review and restructuring of its operations and a period of consultation with staff’ which will result in job losses. There is hope that the museum will reopen in a revised form, but things are not looking good for a 2021 relaunch. David Green added that, ‘the need for changes to the Museum’s operation is vital to ensure that it has a future, particularly as it is extremely likely that the situation is unlikely to improve significantly for many months.’
Find out more about The Florence Nightingale Museum here.
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