Nightingale Museum defies closure fears to reopen

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The Florence Nightingale Museum in St Thomas’s Hospital, London, which more than two years ago closed its doors with fears that it might never be able to open again, reopened yesterday on what would have been Nightingale’s 202nd birthday.

In March 2020 the museum launched a special exhibition to mark Nightingale’s bicentenary which was to have been the start of a year of celebration, but within ten days it was closed in the first lockdown and as the pandemic stretched out and financial losses mounted the museum had to contemplate closing permanently.

Conditions improved, however, and the museum can open five days a week now with elements of the centenary exhibition, including the 200 key objects of Nightingale’s story, such as the famous “lamp” (actually a Turkish lantern), the Scutari sash she designed as the first nursing uniform, her medicine chest containing jars of remedies, her copy of Oliver Twist by her friend Charles Dickens and her pet owl Athena (now stuffed) that lived in Florence’s apron pocket.

There is also an updated Crimean War display, and an exhibit showing Nightingale’s remarkable grasp of statistics.

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