When we think about museums and vast archives of our global history, we don’t tend to imagine them thriving in a basement, under a hospital in the centre of London. This hidden treasure (quite literally) is located on the original site of Florence Nightingale’s school of nursing, which is now the basement of St Thomas’ Hospital; naturally leaving me nonplussed on its whereabouts with a minute to go before I was late on my first day. I’d be lying if I said I had any clue about what my week working here was going to entail; thankfully when I arrived, with a full 5 seconds to spare, I was greeted by a team of kind hearted, passionate people who were surprised I’d found the place at all.
The museum itself has a myriad of objects all displayed with the intention of outlining the life of the Lady of the Lamp and her effect on modern nursing. I have to admit I had no prior knowledge of Florence Nightingale, despite my passion for History, but this week has educated me in all manners of her work and its prevalence to today’s discoveries. I was stunned when I found out that she created pivotal research on the pie chart allowing her to create the first of its kind, using medical records and statistical analysis. And even more so to meet her pet owl Athena, stuffed, in true Victorian style.
During my week here I also shadowed a tour, met with the director of the museum and visited a primary school and aided a workshop with Kristin, Learning Officer at the museum. All of these opportunities gave me an insight into the lives of people working in the industry. While this didn’t necessarily ignite a passion to work in museums for me, I did learn some valuable lessons of cooperation in a team, patience and communication in a workplace environment, therefore, making my time at the Florence Nightingale Museum thoroughly engaging and a pleasure to meet such a lovely team of people.
Written by Anouk Sokolow (15), work experience student