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Exhibition Review – Spanish Flu: Nursing during history’s deadliest pandemic at the Florence Nightingale Museum from 21st September 2018 until 16th June 2019

The Florence Nightingale Museum presents a special exhibition that explores the devastating impact of the Spanish flu pandemic 100 years ago, and the role of both professional nurses in military field hospitals and ordinary women at home, in caring for victims.

Although overshadowed by the events of the First World War, the Spanish flu outbreak was a deadly influenza pandemic which struck in the autumn of 1918, just as World War I was drawing to a close. It is estimated that Spanish flu infected half a billion people worldwide and killed 50-100 million, significantly more than the war itself.

The disease did not originate in Spain but because the country was neutral in the first world war, there was not a political clampdown on news concerning the disease.

It was estimated that a quarter of the British population fell ill with Spanish flu at some point during the pandemic and about 250,000 people died. The more serious strain of the influenza was unusual because healthy young adults seemed to be particularly at risk and it created gruesome symptoms, including explosive nosebleeds and distinctive blue tinged skin caused by a lack of oxygen as their lungs filled with fluid and pus.

People became desperate and would try many alleged ‘remedies’, the exhibition includes some of these including Quinine tablets, Aspirin, Opium , Boots Eau De Cologne. Oxo and a Creosote Vaporiser.  The exhibition also includes an experimental Influenza Vaccine developed by the Royal Army Medical College which was used in a desperate attempt to combat the virus.

Such was the speed of the pandemic and with resources stretched already by the war, essential public services began to break down with hospitals being  overwhelmed with patients, and a shortage of both coffins and gravediggers meant that the bodies of victims could remain unburied for weeks. A mourning card in the exhibition relates to four children from the Baker family in Nottinghamshire who all died of influenza within the space of two weeks in 1918.

A short animated film based  on the notes of Dr Basil Hood from the St Marylebone Infirmary in this period gives some insights into the problems faced. A number of nurses died in this period in the hospital which increased the difficulties of dealing with large numbers of patients.

The exhibition explores the often neglected role of the professional nurses and ordinary women who cared for the victims in the pandemic, Florence Nightingale’s pioneering nursing work during the Crimean War revolutionised the way nurses were viewed within society. With the outbreak of World War I, thousands of women were inspired to follow in her footsteps and volunteer as nurses. It was these women that would be vital in the treatment of casualties in the war and the victims of the Spanish flu in 1918.

This fascinating small exhibition highlights some of the aspects of the Spanish flu pandemic from 100 years ago that have largely been overlooked. Even though more people died from the pandemic than were killed in the war, it was the war that grabbed all the headlines and would be honoured in ceremonies. This particular strain of flu which is similar to ‘Avian’ flu strains was poorly understood and medicines had not been developed to deal with this kind of breakout. The exhibition includes some Tamiflu capsules that were used in the 2009 Swine flu pandemic, health organisations around the world stockpiled millions of these drugs to deal with any outbreak.

The end of the war led to millions of soldiers travelling across Europe and beyond which allowed the transmission of the disease to be quicker than normally would be the case. There were cases of soldiers who had survived the horrors of the war returning home to find their wife and children had died from the pandemic. The extreme forms of the ‘flu’ led to a rise in suicides and psychological breakdowns illustrating the enormous mental strain of dealing with the pandemic.

This exhibition and the many other events that mark the centenary of the Spanish flu pandemic provide important information about how pandemic outbreaks can develop and have catastrophic consequences. It seems remarkable that the many victims of the pandemic have often been forgotten in contrast to the war dead, there are few if any memorials or plaques that remembers the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 despite the massive loss of life.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

Spanish Flu: Nursing during history’s deadliest pandemic exhibition at the Florence Nightingale Museum – 21st September 2018 until 16th June 2019

Florence Nightingale Museum, 2 Lambeth Palace Road, Lambeth, London SE1 7EW

For more information, visit the Museum website here

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Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
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Spanish Flu: Nursing during history’s deadliest pandemic exhibition at the Florence Nightingale Museum – 21st September 2018 until 16th June 2019

1918 flu in Oakland – credit Wikimedia Creative Commons

This September, the Florence Nightingale Museum will present a special exhibition that explores the devastating impact of the Spanish flu pandemic 100 years ago, and the role of both professional nurses in military field hospitals and ordinary women at home, in caring for victims.

Influenza – credit Wikimedia Creative Commons

Although overshadowed by the events of the First World War, the Spanish flu outbreak was a deadly influenza pandemic which struck in the autumn of 1918, just as World War I was drawing to a close. It is estimated that Spanish flu infected half a billion people worldwide and killed 50-100 million, significantly more than the war itself.

The pandemic was unusual because healthy young adults seemed to be particularly at risk and it created gruesome symptoms, including explosive nosebleeds and distinctive blue tinged skin caused by a lack of oxygen as their lungs filled with fluid and pus.

Demonstration at Red Cross Emergency Ambulance Station in Washington DC – credit Wikimedia Creative Commons

With resources stretched already by the war, the scale of the pandemic was so vast, that essential public services broke down across the globe, hospitals were overwhelmed with patients, and a shortage of both coffins and gravediggers meant that the bodies of victims could remain unburied for weeks.

Influenza – credit Wikimedia Creative Commons

Against this background, the exhibition explores the often neglected role of the professional nurses and ordinary women who cared for the victims.

It was Florence Nightingale’s pioneering nursing work during the Crimean War that revolutionised the way nurses were viewed within society. With the outbreak of World War I, thousands of women were inspired to follow in her footsteps and volunteer as nurses. It was these women that would be vital in the treatment of casualties in the war and the victims of the Spanish flu in 1918.

 Berkeley, California. Open air Barber Shop during influenza epidemic – credit Wikimedia Creative Commons

The ‘Spanish Flu’ exhibition has been developed to six key themes through a variety of interpretation, interactives, films and object displays. These themes are:

The global impact and spread of the pandemic

What it was like to have Spanish flu and the unusual treatments and remedies used in a desperate attempt to combat the virus  

The impact of Spanish flu on everyday life

The experiences of both volunteer and professional nurses during the pandemic 

Spanish flu in popular culture and famous victims

The contemporary relevance of the 1918 pandemic

The exhibition will be supported by a diverse events programme, a free downloadable resource pack for schools, and a ‘pop up’ touring exhibition which will enable audiences beyond London to see core and digital content.

Spanish Flu: Nursing during history’s deadliest pandemic exhibition at the Florence Nightingale Museum – 21st September 2018 until 16th June 2019

Florence Nightingale Museum, 2 Lambeth Palace Road, Lambeth, London SE1 7EW

For more information, visit the Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

Exhibition Review – Wounded: Conflict, Casualties and Care at the Science Museum from 29th June 2016

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Timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, Wounded: Conflict, Casualties and Care, is a new exhibition opening at the Science Museum on 29th June that explores some of the remarkable medical responses and innovations of the First World War through the personal stories of those who were wounded and those who cared for them. Many of the objects in the exhibition are part of the Science Museum’s First World War medical collections including stretchers adapted for use in narrow trenches to made-to-measure artificial arms fitted back in British hospitals.

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The exhibition tells the often untold story of how medics facing new forms of physical and mental wounding on a scale that had never been seen before, had to develop strategies to deal with the wounded. For medical personnel near the front line treating blood loss and preventing infection was the immediate priority in order to save lives.

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However it was the scale of the conflict that provided enormous and unprecedented medical challenges. There were 57,000 casualties were sustained by British Forces on the first day of the Battle of the Somme and during the First World War over twenty million combatants were wounded and millions were left disabled, disfigured or traumatised by their experiences. These medical challenges on the battlefields and field hospitals were replicated back in Britain as large institutions were taken over for military use to cope with the wounded. In the exhibition is the famous pastel drawings of facial injuries by Henry Tonks, from the Royal College of Surgeons and a painting by John Lavery in 1914 that captures the arrival of the first British wounded soldiers at the London Hospital.

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A large number of medical technologies, techniques and strategies were pioneered or adapted throughout the war to help the wounded along each stage of rescue and treatment. However after the war, it soon became clear that longer term treatment and care would be needed for the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who came back home with life changing physical and mental wounds. The exhibition  illustrates how the post war period saw the creation of new medical and welfare institutes and organisations and gradual improvements in the specialist forms of care and rehabilitation became available.

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At the end of the war, treatment and attitudes towards psychological issues amongst the wounded varied greatly and often the ‘stigma’ related with these issues led to a reluctance amongst soldiers to seek outside help. Although warfare has changed over the last one hundred years, there are still similarities in how  the wounded have to deal with issues relating to their military experiences. The final part of the exhibition is a section that focuses on Army veterans who served in Afghanistan and have since been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The veterans worked with the museum to co-curate a section of the exhibition, shaping the contents (objects), and creating a short-film illustrating this ‘hidden’ wound.

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This is a fascinating and important free exhibition that concentrates on the reality of the industrialised warfare of the First World War. Whilst much was made of the ‘sacrifice’ of the soldiers at the time, the grim reality of providing long-term care and treatment to the hundreds of thousands of casualties imposed a massive strain on medical institutions. In the post war years, there was a realisation that it was a ‘lost’ generation in more ways than one. The huge loss of those killed was compounded by the enormous psychological cost of those who survived but had to live with being disabled, disfigured or traumatised.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and book tickets, visit the Science Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

 

The London Year of the Bus Cavalcade 2014

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There is a old and recurring joke in London that you can wait a long time for a bus and then three will come all at once.

Well at the London Year of the Bus Cavalcade there are nearly 50 buses, which cover the time period from 1829 to the present.

The warm summer sunshine bought out big crowds who especially were fascinated by the early models.

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The earliest was a Horse Bus which dominated London in the years between 1829 to 1914, at one time there  were 4,000 horse – drawn buses in London.

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It was after the First World War that the first motorbuses were introduced and they quickly became a familiar sight on London streets.

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The buses in the Second World War played an important part in the  war effort, the AEC STL type was known as the standard war time bus.

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The late 50s saw the introduction of the Routemaster which became the most famous London bus and were provided the basis for all the models that followed up to the present day.

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As well as buses there were a number of other interesting exhibits, one of the most popular was the life size bus stop made out of LEGO.

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Exhibition – The Great War in Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery 27th February – 15 June 2014

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Location – National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place WC2H 0HE

The National Portrait Gallery stages the first national exhibition of the First World War centenary commemorations, opening Thursday 27 February 2014. The Great War in Portraits (27 February-15 June 2014) marks the start of a four-year public programme at the Gallery of displays and events, and workshops for young people.

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Selbstbildnis als Soldat (Self-portrait as a Soldier) by Ludwig Kirchner, 1915 © Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio

The Great War in Portraits takes an international perspective. As well as iconic portraits of Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and Winston Churchill, the exhibition reflects the war experience of those from all social classes who served from throughout the Commonwealth.

In the central section titled ‘The Valiant and the Damned’, Portraits  of Victoria Cross holders, medal-winners, heroes and aces are shown juxtaposed with depictions of those whose lives were marked in different ways: casualties, those disfigured by wounds, prisoners of war, and those shot at dawn for cowardice.

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Wilfred Owen by John Gunston, 1916 © National Portrait Gallery, London;

Key loans have been secured from Imperial War Museums, Tate, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau, Munich, Allen Memorial Art Museum, the Royal Airforce Museum, Hendon, Oberlin College, Ohio, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

Further Events
The Gallery’s public programme of events explores the First World War from a wide range of perspectives. A literary season includes lectures by Kate Adie, Max Hastings and Jeremy Paxman discussing their respective books: Fighting on the Home Front – The Legacy of Women in World War One; Catastrophe; and Great Britain’s Great War.

More details of the exhibition and future events can be found at the National Portrait Gallery website

 Opening hours Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: 10am – 6pm (Gallery closure commences at 5.50pm)

Late Opening: Thursday, Friday: 10am – 9pm  (Gallery closure commences at 8.50pm)

Admission Free

Visiting London Guide  Review

The National Portrait Gallery staging the first national exhibition of the First World War centenary commemorations  creates a number of themes to illustrate the Great War.

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Sir Jacob Epstein’s ” The Rock Drill

After the initial shock of being faced with Sir Jacob Epstein’s  futuristic ” The Rock Drill”, we enter more familiar territory with the portraits of the heads of the imperial powers contrasting with press photograph of Gavrilo Princip whose assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand set in motion events that culminated with the war itself.

The exhibition brings together iconic portraits and lesser known works in a multimedia environment that tries to catch the various moods of the conflict from the excitement at the beginning to the despair and futility at the end.

If you are visiting London between now and July, this relatively small exhibition is well worth a visit as it would be very unlikely that these exhibits would ever be displayed together again.

The exhibition gives us an excellent start to  a year of First World War commemorations in London.

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Self Portrait Isaac Rosenberg at the exhibition

Isaac Rosenberg was one of many who did not survive the war but whose poems gives some insight into the horrors of the war.

In the Trenches (Isaac Rosenberg)

I snatched two poppies
From the parapet’s ledge,
Two bright red poppies
That winked on the ledge.
Behind my ear
I stuck one through,
One blood red poppy
I gave to you.

The sandbags narrowed
And screwed out our jest,
And tore the poppy You had on your breast … Down – a shell – O! Christ,
I am choked … safe … dust blind, I
See trench floor poppies
Strewn. Smashed you lie