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Florence Nightingale Museum ‘in hibernation’ until visitors return



The Florence Nightingale Museum will close because of the impact of Covid-19 but expects to open again once visitors return in sustainable numbers.

The museum, based on the grounds of St Thomas’ Hospital, announced on Monday a ‘major review and restructuring’ – likely to involve redundancies – and its indefinite closure from 28 February except for one-off special events.

Museum director David Green told Nursing in Practice that the ‘hibernation period’ was necessary to avoid becoming ‘financially insolvent’ following a drop in visitor numbers and the ‘complete collapse’ of tourism since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

In a normal year, 95% of the museum’s income comes from visitors including admissions, school visits or on-site shop sales, meaning lockdown and social distancing rules have hit finances hard.

Mr Green continued: ‘We are going into hibernation, but it’s not the end. The prudent thing to do is to shrink down and be as lean as possible to survive, with just a skeleton staff to care for the collection.

‘However, something quite radical is going to have to change for us not to have to make staff redundant. It’s a sad time.’

Before lockdown began in March last year, the museum had been gearing up for the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale’s birth and the World Health Organization’s Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020.

Mr Green said: ‘The pandemic couldn’t have come up at a worse time. For the last couple of years, the museum has really thrived and we had grown our staff team to prepare for the bicentenary. But as long as some normality returns, we’ll hopefully be okay.’

The museum said in a statement: ‘The museum is extremely grateful to all those individuals and organisations that have provided financial support throughout a traumatic year and remains open to all offers of support from interested parties.’

A consultation about restructuring plans has begun with museum staff.