Florence Nightingale Museum review (Aug 2013)
This is out-of-date! I have been here again since I wrote this review
I was pretty brave today. I had to swallow my male pride and venture somewhere a bit girly -- the Florence Nightingale Museum. I live my life by the rule of Clint Eastwood, you see -- always asking myself "What would Clint Eastwood do?" And he definitely wouldn't be seen dead in here, nosing around a museum about 19th-century nurses, so it took a lot of courage and bravado on my part, of which I am quite proud.
Of course, I jest (but only a little). The Florence Nightingale Museum is one of those tiny little museums that caters to a very specialised type of person -- nurses. Who else is going to visit here? Kids? Tourists? Funnily enough, when I left the place a group of about twenty Japanese camera-clickers walked in, so maybe it's got a wider appeal than I thought. I suppose I can imagine blokes turning up if they'd got an interest in the Crimean War... but they'd leave pretty disappointed.
My only recollection of Florence Nightingale prior to today was as a bossy old nurse in those sepia-tinged photos, and I was half-expecting the museum to be like that -- old, dusty cabinets filled with medicine bottles and bandages. But it's actually quite modern inside, with lots of bright TV displays showing photos, videos and audio. It reminded me a little bit of the Churchill Museum in the Cabinet War Rooms, if you've ever been there. It's got the same kind of look, except on a much smaller scale.
The museum is only small (it's basically just one big room, split up into different sections), but its focus is very narrow. It's just about Florence. Her life, her clothes, her possessions, and her thoughts about nursing. They've got lots of old books and info screens with videos, some with headphones attached so you can have a listen to the commentary. They've also got one of her famous black dresses, and her pet owl -- stuffed!
I'm reminded of the medicine exhibition at the Science Museum -- now that is interesting. They've got life-size mock-ups of the doctor's surgeries and emergency rooms, through the ages. So you can see what the conditions were really like. I appreciate that this museum is probably too small to include anything like that, but that's the kind of stuff that makes it interesting. This place is just words and photos.
If Florence is your total focus then okay, give it a go. But for everyone else it's just... a quick half-hour and out the exit.
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