Dire start to 2021 with national lockdown and Florence Nightingale Museum on the brink

Image: © UK Prime Minister/Twitter

A new national lockdown has been announced throughout the UK as evidence of just how hard 2020 hit the museums sector is offered up by London’s Florence Nightingale Museum confirming its indefinite closure.

Anyone hoping 2021 would be a welcome tonic to last year’s trauma may already be daydreaming of the possibilities 2022 could hold.

Boris Johnson last night took to a primetime TV slot to announce a third nationwide lockdown in England. This followed similar announcements already made by the leaders of devolved UK administrations.

Visitor attractions have once more been plunged into uncertainty with very meagre solace to be found in the exemption from closure of outdoor heritage sites and gardens, which will remain open to facilitate exercise.

The government has said these latest restrictions are expected to last until the middle of February “if the situation in hospitals improve”.

Reality bites

In the cruelest of blows to an award-winning medical visitor attraction during a health crisis, the Florence Nightingale Museum says it has “regretfully, but inevitably” launched a major review and restructuring of its operations in light of the strains put on the business by the “damaging and continuing effects of the pandemic”.

Florence Nightingale Museum won two prizes at the 2019 M+H Awards

With visitor numbers having been hamstrung by restrictions and social distancing measures, the institution will now remain closed for the “foreseeable future” except for holding one-off events.

Without taking this step, the Museum notes, the venue would have become “financially insolvent before markets recover and visitors return in significant numbers”.

Having, like so many museums, been indebted to donations to stay afloat last year, the site says it 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”.