2010 was the centenary of her death and the new museum is a fitting tribute to someone who many say is the most influential Victorian after Queen Victoria herself.
This museum is included in the list of:
Famous London People Museums and Houses.
- the writing slate Florence used as a child;
- the medicine chest she took to the Crimean war;
- a rare Register of Nurses which lists the women who served under her in the military hospitals in Turkey and the Crimean;
- and her pet little Owl Athena who travelled everywhere in her pocket.
What To ExpectAdmission includes a free audio tour but it's not the standard headphones here. Oh no, you are issued with a stethoscope to touch on the audio hot-spots around the museum! This instantly adds an element of fun to a subject that could be quite dry but has been presented in an engaging manner.
Children are regular visitors to the museum as Florence Nightingale is studied in all British schools so there's a special audio guide for 7-11 year olds and an i-spy trail for 3-7 year olds. The 7-11 year olds audio guides were updated in 2011 by local young people who also produced three films which are shown in the 'legacy wall' of the museum.
My preschooler loved the green plastic hedge walls and the rose wall in the zone about Florence's childhood and family, and the peep hole viewers at different heights all over the hedge kept us both enthralled.
The museum isn't brightly lit but the exhibits all have good lighting. To take the silence away of people looking at exhibits and listening to the audio guide, there are atmospheric sounds of birds tweeting and clinking, presumably of medical instruments.
There are three 'zones' where you can find out about her privileged childhood and home life; her time in the Crimea; and her campaigning after the war and her bedridden, prolific letter writing. Around the edge of the room there are photos and videos of modern day nursing.
Discovering more about Florence's family life brought her story more to life for me. I found out her Victorian upbringing meant home tuition in a deeply religious environment, plus a close bond with her sister, Pathenope. And the interactive register of nurses who worked with her showed her unfailing high standards as she dismissed so many for being incompetent.
I visited during the opening week and the museum was popular with a much larger number of visitors than I normally see at small museums at the start of the day. Everyone seemed to enjoy what they found and all wanted to buy something from the small foyer gift shop that has quirky gift ideas such as chocolate thermometers and pills. I now know what to buy next time I need a gift for a sick friend.
Florence Nightingale Museum
2 Lambeth Palace Road
Tel: 020 7620 0374
Tube - Westminster, Waterloo, Lambeth North
Rail – Waterloo
Riverboat – London Eye Pier, Westminster Pier
Buses – numerous routes
Use Journey Planner to plan your route by public transport.
Opening Hours: Daily, 10am – 5pm
Admission: £5+ (family tickets available)
The whole museum is on one level so is fully accessible.
Official Website: www.florence-nightingale.co.uk