We spoke to Hannah Smith, visitor experience and collections manager at the Florence Nightingale Museum in London, to discover more about what awaits groups on a visit.

What’s the best thing about taking groups around the museum?

I love explaining Nightingale’s life and how she broke free of societal expectations to do something she was so passionate about, making a huge difference with the work she did across her life. To be able to share her story and educate our visitors is such a privilege.

What can visitors expect?

We can offer groups a self-guided or guided visit. Our guided visits can be a museum tour, which are conducted by our very knowledgeable team, or we offer a Nightingale tour or performance from the lady herself! We have a team of fantastic costumed actors that really bring Nightingale’s story to life.

Hannah Smith, Florence Nightingale Musuem

Hannah Smith.

Why should groups choose this museum with so many in London to pick from?

Visitors can see one-of-a-kind items whilst gaining an appreciation for nursing history and the huge legacy that Nightingale leaves behind. Our groups can book a 90-minute slot, where they will be the only group in the museum. This allows plenty of time to look around, but also leaves time to explore our central London location or visit other nearby museums.

What are the must-see items to look out for?

While the famous lamp is always a highlight of the museum, many of the team and our visitors would say to look out for Athena, Nightingale’s pet owl, that she rescued from Greece on her travels. Athena accompanied Nightingale everywhere and even had her own maid!

How can a tour guide enhance the trip?

Our tours can really add an extra dimension to a group visit, giving an extra insight into Nightingale’s life. Our team are so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about Nightingale, and this really comes through in our tours and talks.

Florence Nightingale Museum, London

Source: Ash Knotek

A costumed guide helps bring the visit to life.

What do you hope people will take away with them after visiting?

I hope people realise that Nightingale was more than just the Lady with the Lamp. She is considered to be the mother of modern nursing, but we also highlight all of the many other things that she did across her life, most of which were done from her bed as she was chronically ill following the Crimean War. Nightingale was a statistician, campaigner, expert on hospital design and so much more. Over the years she has also become a symbol for female empowerment.

Tell us a little bit about your role

My role at the museum can be so varied. One day I am condition checking objects from our collection and on another day, I can be re-merchandising the shop! I cover our visitor experience, ensuring that our guests have the best visit possible, as well looking after our entire collection, and ensuring its preservation for the future.

For more information about group visits to the Florence Nightingale Museum, head to www.florence-nightingale.co.uk.