Florence Nightingale Museum struggling to avoid permanent closure

Online auction and fundraising page are among efforts to save museum as COVID-19 keeps visitors away

Picture of the entrance to the Florence Nightingale Museum
Picture: David Gee

The Florence Nightingale Museum could close permanently within months unless it can raise enough funds to keep going until it is permitted to re-open to visitors.

Its director David Green told Nursing Standard the museum is ‘fundraising for survival’, having been deprived of income due to the pandemic.

Efforts to save the museum, dedicated to the founder of modern nursing, include plans for an online auction to be hosted by antiques expert Charles Hanson, a regular on the BBC’s Bargain Hunt and Antiques Road Trip programmes. It has also set up a website to receive donations.

‘It’s difficult to say how much we will need to keep operating until we get a green light from the government to open,’ Mr Green said.

Exhibits include the lamp Miss Nightingale carried in the Crimean War

He said £70,000 has been raised so far, but estimates the museum needs about £250,000 to survive.

Costs cover security and artefact conservation at the museum, which is located in the grounds of St Thomas’ Hospital in central London. Its exhibits include the lamp Ms Nightingale carried during the 1853-56 Crimean War, which led her to be known as The Lady with the Lamp.

It also has her medicine chest and her famous Notes on Nursing, the guide she wrote in 1859 and which is still in print.

Picture shows children visiting the Florence Nightingale Museum
Usually, the museum regularly hosts school groups learning about nursing
Picture: Florence Nightingale Museum

Three or four months left without extra funding

Picture of antiques expert Charles Hanson
Charles Hanson

‘Despite furloughing most of our 13 staff, it costs around £19,000 a month to run the museum while it is closed,’ Mr Green said. ‘We are grateful to everyone who has donated and with the money raised so far we have about three or four months left.’

He said nearly £20,000 has been raised through a GoFundMe page and £50,000 had been received from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Hearing of the museum’s plight, television personality Mr Hanson contacted Mr Green offering his support.

‘The loss of this museum is unthinkable’

Mr Hanson will hold an online Florence Nightingale Shed Auction on 19 June to raise funds for the museum from his garden shed.

Items up for auction include a two-night stay at Lea Hurst, Ms Nightingale’s family home near Matlock in Derbyshire, and vintage port from the Burney family, friends of Ms Nightingale.

Mr Hanson said: ‘The loss of this museum is unthinkable. I’m determined to do all I can to get it out of intensive care and back into the recovery ward.’

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