Lady of the Lamp is portrayed in new light

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Florence Nightingale was far more than an angel of mercy tending to the sick and dying of the Crimean War, according to an exhibition commemorating her arrival on the battlefield 150 years ago which starts today.

Florence Nightingale was far more than an angel of mercy tending to the sick and dying of the Crimean War, according to an exhibition commemorating her arrival on the battlefield 150 years ago which starts today.

Organisers of the anniversary show in London say the nursing pioneer was an expert administrator, a scourge of bureaucracy and a founder of many tenets of good health care which remain essential to nursing today.

Calamity Unparalleled: Order out of Chaos can be seen at the Florence Nightingale Museum at St Thomas' Hospital in London, where she founded the UK's first nursing school.

There also new items not previously shown, including two watercolour pictures by soldiers as well as her beloved owl, Athena, which died shortly before the war. Although organisers hope to change the perception of Nightingale as "Lady of the Lamp", a lamp in use in her field hospitals is on show.

The museum director, Alex Attewell, said: "Florence Nightingale's fame is certainly justified in terms of the care she gave to the soldiers, but does not do justice to her achievements. We want to shift the public perception away from the saccharine and saintly image to something more realistic."

Organisers hope that the exhibition, which runs until next April, will help raise the profile of the museum.

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