London's Hidden Gem: Our visit to the Florence Nightingale Museum
Long before the days of ‘girl power’ Florence Nightingale was shaking up the stuffy Victorian medical profession, saving the lives of wounded soldiers, and leading the way for future generations of women to become nurses. This little gem of a museum, tucked away among the grounds of St. Thomas’ Hospital, tells a story that inspires and surprises beyond our familiar image of the ‘Lady with the Lamp’ - using an array of historical objects, engaging multimedia and creative activities.
Children and their families follow a trail through the amazing life of the world’s most famous nurse, peering through peep-holes to learn fascinating facts about the challenges Nightingale faced as a nursing pioneer. The museum is highly interactive, presenting its powerful story through video projections and audio recordings, in addition to its many cabinets of curiosities. My nine-year-old son Orson really enjoyed the special exhibition about the Spanish Flu pandemic, where he got to learn about the stages of a medical case-history with a scratch-card.
History really comes alive with performances of Meet Miss Nightingale - a one-woman show, free with admission - performed on the last Saturday of every month (11:30, 1:30 and 3:00 pm) and on special occasions, including a family event on May 11th to commemorate Florence Nightingale's birthday.
If you'd like to follow in Florence's footsteps, there's a scheduled walking tour Florence Nightingale's London each month from March to October. The Spanish Flu exhibition runs through to June 19th 2019.
General admission is £8 for adults (concs. £6) and £6 for children. A family ticket is priced at £17.00 (covering two adults and up to four children under 16) making a visit to the this museum an affordable and enjoyable trip for families In London, certainly in comparison to charges at the tourist traps along the nearby Southbank. Most Florence Nightingale Museum events are free with admission but there are some creative workshops scheduled throughout the year that come at a small additional cost.
Exhibitions are targeted at children in Keystage 1, although teens studying for their GCSEs will find the museum a valuable place to research a project.
The Museum is fully accessible for wheelchair users and has a wheelchair accessible toilet. Cloakroom and baby changing facilities are also available.
“I liked playing Florence Nightingale’s BREATHE word game,” Orson told me as we left the museum. “I got to do lots of different things, like try on a soldier’s uniform. It was fun!”
Want to try it out for yourself? Find out more here.