The Florence Nightingale Museum in London has added a new exhibition to mark 200 years of her birth.
I’m not sure it was Florence Nightingale who inspired my nursing career but I was definitely aware of her achievements in the Crimean War and for nurses generally. Or at least I thought I knew about her but that was before a visit to the Florence Nightingale Museum in London. The woman had so many more talents and skills than nursing which I discovered as I wandered round the new exhibition on her legacy.
The Florence Nightingale Museum is within the grounds of St Thomas Hospital in London. It’s one of those places I had always intended to visit but never quite got there. It’s a small museum but there is a lot more inside than you think. Greeted by Florence in costume and suitably masked I began my tour looking at Florence’s younger life. There were childhood displays including a stuffed owl that had been a pet. The stained glass window depicting the calling she received from God was beautiful, radiating warmth into the museum.
Another display told the story of her life in the Crimea where she introduced discipline to hospitals and nursing standards. Set in Turkish style tiles the displays portrayed medical instruments as well as photos, documents and other items from the Crimean War.
The new exhibit to mark 200 years of Florence Nightingale’s birth was by far the more interesting. I found the display of a replia of Florence Nightingale’s bedroom a little creepy, especially her high pitch voice coming from the phonograph. Next door, a display of her achievements was fascinating. I had no idea she set up nursing in workhouses or wrote so many books. She was a statistician too, and the flooring in a cockscomb pattern paid homage to her work on mortality rates. The legacy she left in inspiring nurses was phenomenal.
The museum is a hidden gem in London and worth a visit. Bookings are essential due to social distancing and the Covid 19 pandemic.