I was lost on the southbank, the vast St Thomas hospital obscuring my view. The Florence Nightingale Museum should be around here somewhere, shouldn’t it? Then there she was, the Lady with the Lamp. Waiting for me. Politely asking if I was looking for the museum, I gratefully accepted her guidance and was escorted by Florence herself to the Museum and to the Launch of Museums at Night 2010. It was a very bizarre experience being greeted by such a wonderful icon. Particularly when surrounded by the roaring traffic round waterloo. But Florence made time stand still. It was a fantastic start to a wonderful evening.
The Florence Nightingale Museum has been newly refurbished, it looks and feels fantastic! It is a really tactile museum; split into three pavilions to tell the story of Florence’s life. Firstly the a privet hedge pavilion represents the first key period in Florence’s Life – The Gilded Cage and her Family. The privet is brilliant it really makes you want to run your hands through it and imagine what it would have been like growing up as Florence. The second pavilion is about the Crimea, covered in eastern style tiles and bandages and finally the Health Reformer pavilion made from bookshelves which represent Florence’s later life, writing and campaigning.
On entry into the museum you are provided with a stethoscope… no ordinary stethoscope mind you, throughout the museum there are spots for you to place the stethoscope and have a listen and it very cleverly turns into a sort of audio guide. Genius.
Now to the launch itself, it was brilliant, an evening full of Victorian delights, from a magician entertaining the crowds to a wonderful harpist and the best being a silhouette artist, who was absolutely outstanding and who I want want want to have at my next party. I love my silhouette, not only does it have a perfect rendition of my sethoscope, my cupcake necklace (made by Mabinogian Crafts) and my glasses, but it looks like me! Me! amazing. and Sarah did it in about a minute. Now that is a skill.
There was even boiled egg canapés at this event, got to love a good evening of victorian entertainment! Andrew Collins and former Culture Secretary Chris Smith were guest speakers, and it was clear to see the amount of passion and enthusiasm they have for culture and the Museums at Night Initiative. Andrew Collins was particularly interesting as he told the crows that when he was little fell in love with the big blue whale at the Natural History Museum, and this started his love affair with museums and galleries and his fear of giant teddy bears from the Teddy Bear Museum in Dorchester. He also spoke about the idea that you can pick up culture wherever you go. Whether it is big or small, expensive or free it is worth doing. and May is a fantastic time to get out and about; go somewhere you haven’t been before, or see something different at your favourite museum, you’ll be surprised how different museums can be at Night. Ive blogged about Museums at Night before, here and here. It really is a great idea and I am very excited about it.
Here are some of my favourite events coming up on the 14-16th May:
- The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology is holding Horror at the Museum: Mummy Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle
- Horrible histories illustrator, Martin Brown will be at the Imperial War Museum for an evening of horrible illustrations.
- The lates Shows in Newcastle, a ‘culture crawl’ through the city (Mam, Dad if you’re reading this… you should go! the Victoria tunnel looks awesome!)
- The Old Operating Theatre- 19th century leg amputation….
- And of course Geevor! And I quote from the BBC History Magazine Guide to Museums at Night : “provides perhaps the most atmospheric night-time tour in the land” and I can certainly vouch for that, last years event was spine tingling good.
There are loads and loads of events all over the country (in fact all over Europe as part of la nuit dess Musees), you can use the handy Museum’s at Night Event finder to find out whats going on where.
Many thanks to Roise ( who looked gorgeous in a turquoise butterfly dress by the way) for inviting me and for Culture 24 for making Museums at Night bigger and better! I cant wait for the 14th! Bring it on!