War hero, pioneer of social reform, and founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale is a legendary figure in British history. Her story is the focus of the Florence Nightingale Museum, where interactive exhibits chronicle her work as a nurse in the Crimean War and detail her role in reforming midwifery and nursing around the world.The Basics
Housed in London’s St Thomas’ Hospital—home to the Nightingale Training School of Nursing and Midwifery—the museum showcases almost 3,000 artefacts, including photographs, films, maps, and medical equipment. Highlights include Nightingale’s taxidermied pet owl Athena, her medicine chest used in the Crimean War, and a rare Crimean Register of Nurses. You can skip the ticket line by pre-purchasing your admission online. Entrance to the museum is also included with the London Pass.
Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Florence Nightingale Museum is a must-visit for history lovers.
- The museum runs a busy events program with regular talks.
- There is a gift shop selling books and other mementoes inspired by the museum’s collection.
- The museum is fully accessible for wheelchair users and has a wheelchair accessible restroom.
The museum is located in St. Thomas' Hospital, opposite the Palace of Westminster on London’s South Bank. It is a 10-minute walk from Waterloo tube station, which is served by the Bakerloo, Jubilee, Northern, and Waterloo and City lines. You can also reach it by getting off a Westminster tube station (Circle, District, and Jubilee lines) and walking across the Westminster Bridge.When to Get There
The Florence Nightingale Museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm—the last entrance is at 4.30pm. Free public tours take place every afternoon at 3.30pm. The museum can be busy with school groups on weekday mornings.
An Owl Named Athena
The museum is home to Nightingale’s most treasured possession; her taxidermied pet owl. While in Athens, she saved the owl from a group of children she believed were going to torture it. She named it Athena and took it home to London where she cared for and trained her. After five years, however, Nightingale was called to the Crimean War and the owl died at home in her absence. Heartbroken, she had Athena taxidermied so she’d be preserved forever.