What Is the Florence Nightingale Museum?

B. Turner
B. Turner
The Florence Nightingale Museum is located opposite the Houses of Parliament.
The Florence Nightingale Museum is located opposite the Houses of Parliament.

The Florence Nightingale Museum is a museum in London, England. This venue is dedicated to the life and work of Florence Nightingale, who made important contributions to nursing and health care during the 19th century. Nightingale was known as the "Lady with the Lamp," due to her frequent night rounds during the Crimean War. In addition to the main Florence Nightingale Museum, travelers may also wish to visit Claydon House, a separate London institution that houses a collection of Nightingale artifacts and memorabilia.

In 1982, the city of London opened the Florence Nightingale Museum along the South Bank of the River Thames. The museum is part of St. Thomas' Hospital, though it has its own separate entrance and staff. It sits opposite the famous Houses of Parliament, making it a convenient stop for London tourists. The facility is open to the public seven days a week, and guests pay a small admission fee. The Florence Nightingale Museum also houses an extensive resource center for scholars and visiting academics who need to access original sources about Nightingale or the nursing field.

During its early years, the museum was arranged along a timeline centered around Florence's life and work. During the early 21st century, the museum was shut down so staff could complete a major renovation. The museum reopened in May 2010, exactly 100 years after Nightingale's death in 1910. The renovation cost approximately $3,000,000 US Dollars (USD), and brought major changes to the exhibits within. The goal of this renovation was to improve the visitor experience, and create exhibits that would appeal to a wider audience, including children.

As guests enter the Florence Nightingale Museum, they are given free stethoscopes, which act as speakers during self-guided audio tours. Visitors plug the stethoscope into specially-marked hot spots within the museum to hear details about Nightingale's life. Groups can also arrange for guided tours, which are led by a costumed hostess dressed in period clothing that a nurse in the 19th century would have worn. Many of the new exhibits are interactive, and some feature touchscreens or short films.

The Florence Nightingale Museum is divided into three main exhibit areas. The first is known as the "Gilded Cage," and shows visitors what Nightingale's life was like as a young woman during the Victorian era. The second is titled "The Calling," and describes her work during the Crimean War. Finally, the "Reform and Inspire" area shows visitors how Florence started a nursing college after the war, and helped to revolutionize the medical profession.

Discussion Comments


@Emilski - Well to be honest it may seems like she was an everyday person serving in the war, but to be honest she was the main British nurse and she did a lot to make changes in the field of nursing and medical care.

Besides being a nurse she was a statistician and sought to improve sanitary conditions in the medical field. She was also one of the first powerful women leaders in society and had a complex view of women in general doing this time. That in itself makes her a contradictory feminist and something historians who study gender would want to look at.

Although it is easy to say she is an everyday citizen and one of many, her fame brought with it a lot of impact on her part and allows for a lot of historical study to be used.

This museum allows that to happen and I am pretty sure people have utilized the sources there to come up with some articles or books relating to gender history. If anyone knows of any it would be great to know.


@cardsfan27 - You are correct in your assessment concerning Florence Nightingale's letters being saved, but I really have to wonder how valuable they really are and question her impact on the Crimean War.

To me she is just a single nurse in this era of British history and she simply became famous due to her reputation with soldiers and not really for how she contributed to the war effort.

To me she is not as famous as someone, like a head of state during the war, or a general that had an impact on the livelihood of the country. I see her as just a normal, everyday citizen that contribute like millions of others to the war effort.

I think that it is great that she has a museum dedicated to her and a scholarly based wing that allows people to research her, but I really do not understand how she had a major impact on history and feel her role is a bit romanticized and that is why she was famous enough to have a museum dedicated to her.


@TreeMan - You are absolutely correct. What I find to be very interesting about this museum is that it is not just a tourist type of museum that is just intended to be a stopping grounds in order to generate revenue from passers by.

This museum is an actual scholarly place intended for people to learn a lot about the woman as well as the period in history in which she was famous.

The research center allows for researchers and scholars to come in and properly study her letters and be able to find out about the conditions of the hospitals and be able to acquire an insight into care of soldiers during the 18th century.

Due to Florence Nightingale's fame it allows the researchers a great glance at a nurses role in the war, as much of her information has been saved due to her fame


I find it very interesting that they finally decided to create a museum based on probably the most famous nurse in history.

What I find to be really interesting about this museum is that it is entirely based on an ordinary citizen's life, that in reality was not a famous person in the normal sense, like she was not a head of state or a famous person in government, but rather just an ordinary person that did their duty during the war.

She was considered a war hero, but was a war hero in a different sense as she never to my knowledge was on a battlefield or saw any combat. Instead she looked after soldiers and became world famous for doing so.

To have a museum completely related and dedicated to her is incredibly unique and something that I would think there is not a lot of as far as the museum world goes.

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    • The Florence Nightingale Museum is located opposite the Houses of Parliament.
      By: sborisov
      The Florence Nightingale Museum is located opposite the Houses of Parliament.