Facade of brick multi-storey building with circular fountain and lawn in foreground.

Sydney Hospital, Nightingale Wing exterior. Photo © Katrina James, Sydney Living Museums

Lucy Osburn-Nightingale Museum

Sunday 3 November 2019

8 Macquarie Street, Sydney

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Thomas Rowe

Additional architects

John Kirkpatrick (1892–94)

Sydney Hospital celebrates a continuous history since 1788 as the first hospital in Australia. The central building of Governor Macquarie’s new three-winged General ‘Rum’ Hospital was constructed on this site from 1811 to 1816, in return for a monopoly on the importation of rum, hence its name. However, packed with convict patients, the hospital was overcrowded and rife with dysentery, and quickly became known as ‘the Sidney Slaughter House’.

The central 'Rum' Hospital building was demolished in 1879, however, the North and South wings of the 'Rum' Hospital still stand today. The North Wing houses the Parliment of NSW, and the more extant South Wing now known as the Mint houses the head office of Sydney Living Museums. The oldest remaining building on the site of the demolished 'Rum' Hospital is Australia’s first nursing school, the Nightingale Wing, completed in 1868. The four-storey Gothic Revival building was designed by Thomas Rowe and approved by Florence Nightingale herself. It opened soon after the arrival of Miss Lucy Osburn and five other nurses sent from England at the request of Henry Parkes.

Osburn arrived in March 1868 and commenced the first Nightingale School of Nursing in the new building. Like Florence Nightingale, she advocated tirelessly (in the face of bureaucratic obstruction) to raise hospital standards. She would go on to lay the foundations of modern nursing in Australia, following the Nightingale principles of cleanliness, ventilation, healthy food and excellent care. Today, the first floor of the Nightingale Wing houses the Lucy Osburn-Nightingale Foundation Museum. The building is listed under the National Trust.

The Nightingale Wing is open courtesy of Sydney Hospital and Sydney Eye Hospital. Medical artefacts and other objects from the Sydney Hospital nursing collection are on display in the exhibition areas.

On Sunday 3 November

What’s open?

Level 1, Nightingale Wing, 16 exhibition areas.

Talks, tours & more

to know

  • Photography restricted
    No flash photography in the museum.

  • Food & drink available

  • Additional information
    Please note there are general tours held every Tuesday from 10am to 3pm (please see website for details).

Opening hours


Last entry



8 Macquarie Street, Sydney

Entry via

Macquarie Street or Hospital Road (via the rear)


Find out more about the Lucy Osburn-Nightingale Museum.