The year that has seen people more dependent on nurses and healthcare than ever before is likely to see the closure of the museum dedicated to the nursing pioneer, Florence Nightingale.
Even when open, the museum, as with most museums has seen a collapse in visitors, and with the museum dependent on paying visitors its future has been put in doubt. The Florence Nightingale Museum has now announced that is unlikely to reopen again as a public museum unless it is able to secure additional funding.
Although it may be able to open again for a few weeks if the lockdown is eased, visitor numbers are now so low that the museum has taken the decision that it will have to close to the public from the end of February.
The decision has been taken to reduce costs so that what income they do have can be focused on preserving the collection until maybe one day it can be opened to the public again.
Currently, the museum – an independent charity – is reliant on visitors for around 95% of its income; and more than half of those are visitors travelling to London from overseas. Last year was set to be its busiest ever with Florence Nightingale’s bicentenary drumming up a huge amount of interest, and hence visitors to the museum’s exhibitions.
Support from individual donors, as well as the Art Fund, Arts Council England, and National Heritage Lottery Fund, makes it possible for the Museum to re-open if the lockdown is relaxed. However, considering the current financial situation, the museum will be closed from 28 February 2021, except for special one-off events.
They’ve also started consultations with the staff on possible redundancies which a restructuring plan is put in place to reduce the museum’s dependence on people turning up at the door and buying a ticket.
The museum says that if the changes are not made now, it will become financially insolvent before markets recover and visitors return in significant numbers.
As the Museum’s structure changes, it is also currently recruiting a number of new trustees to its board, with appointments encompassing the skills required to begin a new phase in the Museum’s development.
In the meantime, they have a fundraising campaign on their website to help keep the lamp lit.