The Florence Nightingale Museum – Review for families

Use our family day out guide to help you decide if this nursing museum is right for you and your children

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What is it?

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The Florence Nightingale Museum recounts the story of the woman largely regarded as the founder of modern nursing in the UK. Find it at St Thomas’ Hospital, just a short walk from the London Eye and the attractions along the South Bank. The nearest tube stations are Westminster and Waterloo.

Best for:

5 – 8 / 9 – 12 / 12 +

Cost

£. An adult ticket is £7.80 and a child ticket is £4.80. Their family ticket is good value for money, especially if you have more than two children. It’s less than £20 and includes 2 adults and up to 5 children under 16!

What’s on offer

A museum about the history of nursing past and the celebration of nursing today may not on the surface appear to be a fun day out with the kids and much like the Hunterian Museum or Old Operating Theatre Museum may seem too niche.

However, there’s so much more to this museum than displays and exhibits about nursing, as the Florence Nightingale Museum re-tells the tale of the woman behind the museum’s title and also known as ‘the lady with the lamp’. It’s told across three pavilions within one room, which are named The Gilded Cage, The Calling and Reform & Inspire.

Each pavilion covers a period of Florence Nightingale’s life, from her priviilged Victorian childhood to her experiences during the Crimean war, ending amidst her journey as an ardent campaigner for health reforms. The museum also features collections of rare and unusual items related to the field of nursing, and some of Florence’s personal belongings. You’re given a free audio tour as you enter the museum. Away you go…

Special holidays events and workshops are offered for children during the holidays (which are free with entry). There are art materials available for children whose families decide to follow the ‘family trail’, which costs just 50p at reception.

In terms of facilities, the museum is fairly limited, though it does have an accessible toilet and wheelchair access, which may prove useful for mums pushing buggies around. There is public parking available near the hospital, but it does cost the usual zone fare.

If you’re tired or hungry, there’s a Marks & Spencer café and shop in St Thomas’ Hospital and several other refreshment areas. Foreign families will love that the museum’s website offers a variety of museum introduction documents in numerous languages.

Highlights

For anyone with an interest in history, historical figures or the medical profession, this museum is a real find. But it’s also a gem for those who haven’t already got a huge passion for medicine, such as children beginning to study history at school or little curious minds, who are still at the stage of soaking anything and everything in.  It’s very informative and will be an eye-opener for those with no prior knowledge about Florence and her work.

It’s very small and considerably cheap for a London attraction, making it good value for money.

There’s a real personal element to it – for example, in the collections you see Florence’s beloved pet owl Athena, one of her nursing uniforms, childhood possessions and her infamous lamp.  

What to watch out for

– This museum is small. You won’t need much longer than an hour here.

– Visitors are usually torn about whether or not the museum can be considered well laid out, well presented and organized. This is totally subjective, but there is some structure to the museum as you walk through Florence’s life.

– One or two TripAdvisor users found that they would have liked more information from their guides, though most visitors thought they were great. Maybe do some google searching if you want more info.

– There’s a lot of reading involved, so if your child is more hands on and favours interactive exhibits, they might find themselves a bit bored here.

– There’s little to do for toddlers and as there is just one room, you would find it difficult to maneuver a buggy around.

MFM tips

– If you only have a few days in London, you don’t need to put this place high on your priority list unless you or the kids have a real passion for the subject. In which case, put Hunterian Museum and The Old Operating Theatre Museum on your list. 

What the owners say

“From Florence’s slate she used as a child, her pet owl Athena, to the Turkish lantern used in the Crimean War, the collection spans the life of Florence Nightingale, the Crimean War and Florence’s nursing legacy up to the present day.”

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Visit the official Florence Nightingale Museum website

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