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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Florence Nightingale Museum

Florence Nightingale Museum

Florence Nightingale Museum

The Florence Nightingale Museum is located at St Thomas’ Hospital on the River Thames in South Bank, London. The museum traces the history and story of Florence Nightingale, “the lady with the lamp”.  Staring with her Victorian childhood to her experiences in the Crimean War, through to her years as an ardent campaigner for health reform. The museum illustrates her legacy and recognises the critical role and profession of nursing.

In 1860, four years after her famous involvement in the Crimean War, Nightingale founded the Nightingale Training School for Nurses at St. Thomas’ Hospital and the museum is located on this site. Nightingale is recognised as the founder of modern nursing in the United Kingdom.

The museum is organised into three pavilions:

  • The Gilded Cage pavilion, which tells the story of Nightingale’s privileged childhood and her struggle against stifling social conventions.
  • The Calling pavilion, which shows how Nightingale and her team coped with the crisis in the military hospitals where the legend of the lady with the lamp was born.
  • The Reform and Inspire pavilion, which shows Nightingale as the reformer who campaigned tirelessly for health reform at home and abroad.

There is also a resource centre which is open by appointment to students, academics and other researchers, who may use the museum’s collections, books and documents related to Florence Nightingale.

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910) was an English social reformer and statistician, and the founder of modern nursing. Nightingale came to prominence while serving as the manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War, in which she organised to care for wounded soldiers. She professionalised nursing roles for women and became an icon of Victorian culture, primarily as “The Lady with the Lamp” making the rounds of wounded soldiers at night.

In 1860, Nightingale laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. It was the first secular nursing school in the world. In recognition of her pioneering work in nursing, the annual International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world on her birthday. She also helped to abolish prostitution laws that were harsh for women and expanding the acceptable forms of female participation in the workforce.

Nightingale was a prodigious writer and published work to spread essential medical knowledge. She was also a pioneer in the use of infographics, effectively using graphical presentations of statistical data. Much of her writing on religion and mysticism was published posthumously.

Exhibits of the Florence Nightingale Museum

  • Writing slate Nightingale used as a child
  • Her pet owl Athena
  • Nightingale’s medicine chest from the Crimean War
  • Register of Nurses that lists women who served in the military hospitals in Turkey and the Crimean.

Florence Nightingale Museum

Explore London’s Museums and Heritage Sites

Florence Nightingale Quotes

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“I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse.”

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“Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.”

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“I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse.”

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“I have lived and slept in the same bed with English countesses and Prussian farm women… no woman has excited passions among women more than I have.

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“Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.”

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“So never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself.”

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“To be a fellow worker with God is the highest aspiration of which we can conceive man capable.”

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“Rather, ten times, die in the surf, heralding the way to a new world, than stand idly on the shore.”

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“The only English patients I have ever known refuse tea, have been typhus cases; and the first sign of their getting better was their craving again for tea.”

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“The amount of relief and comfort experienced by the sick after the skin has been carefully washed and dried is one of the commonest observations made at a sick bed.”

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“It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a hospital that it should do the sick no harm.”

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“No man, not even a doctor, ever gives any other definition of what a nurse should be than this – ‘devoted and obedient’. This definition would do just as well for a porter. It might even do for a horse. It would not do for a policeman.”

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“There is no part of my life, upon which I can look back without pain.”

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“The world is put back by the death of everyone who has to sacrifice the development of his or her peculiar gifts to conventionality.”

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“To understand God’s thoughts one must study statistics… the measure of his purpose.”

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“So never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small,
for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself.”

– Florence Nightingale

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Photo Credit: JOM

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