Dear Professor McDonald,
Thank you for your letter, which the Board and I read with interest. We always welcome constructive criticism from members of the Nightingale community, or indeed from any of our visitors.
To answer a few of your points:
The museum shop:
We offer a changing range of books, which usually includes those of FN’s own writings which are available and in print, Notes on Nursing and Notes on Hospitals are especially popular. We do not sell any DVDs and have not for five years – in general, people don’t use DVDs anymore, tending to use digital formats instead.
The Workhouse exhibition:
The reason for having this exhibition was specifically because of FN’s wonderful work with pauper nursing. I am surprised you found no Nightingale associations when you visited this exhibition. Nightingale’s work on workhouses and also on statistics are areas of particular interest to our visitors.
We offer a free lecture on FN and her life weekly, something we find very popular with our visitors, as well as guided tours and talks for booked groups. Our changing events programme tends to be themed, so this summer has focussed on the collaboration with Great Ormond Street, another major London hospital with a fascinating collection of Peter Pan memorabilia. Our next season is examining male identity of soldiers in the Crimean war through their facial hair. You might like to look at the website for details.
Thank you in particular for your comments of suggested alterations and additions on the website. You will have realised the website is new, we launched it in April this year, and re-writing and tweaking is still ongoing. I am sure you realise that with a small team, who have many calls on their time, this can be a slow process.
I note that the Nightingale Society posts up its correspondence on their website. The Board of Trustees and I are very happy for this reply to be added alongside your original letter, if you think this would be of interest.
Best wishes, and we hope to welcome you and your colleagues at the museum when you are all next in the UK.
Dame Christine Beasley
Natasha McEnroe, Director