Who Cares? The history of emotions in nursing

22 Jan 2020 - 31 Dec

RCN Library and Heritage Centre, 20 Cavendish Square, Marylebone, London, W1G ORN


New exhibition explores the history of emotions in nursing

The exhibition draws on new research from project partners at Queen Mary Centre for the History of the Emotions, funded by the Wellcome Trust, to explore the cultural context in which emotions have been understood in nursing. From concepts of religious love and faith, idealised motherhood and gendered notions of care, to the role of military discipline in the professionalisation of nursing, it focuses on six key emotional themes: birth, death, sex, faith, war and protest.

Through the display of RCN Collection items, historical objects from lending institutions and immersive design elements, the exhibition asks visitors to question which, if any, emotions are necessary for good care, how important compassion really is and how long certain emotions have been attached to nurses and the health care professions. 

Central to the exhibition is a specially commissioned stained glass artwork, created by artist Rachel Mulligan in collaboration with RCN members and health care professionals. 


The RCN Library and Heritage Centre is now open to members, you will need to book in advance to visit this exhibition (viewing time approx. 20-30 mins).

There are other ways to make the most of our exhibitions and events:

  • Look through our reading list, highlighting key texts on the history of emotions in nursing.
  • Keep an eye on social media where we are hosting online twitter and instagram tours of the exhibition.

Visitor information

This exhibition will be on display at the Library and Heritage Centre for at least 2 years and has replaced the exhibition The Voice of Nursing: Celebrating 100 years of the RCN

See our What's On page for current exhibitions and events. 

All our exhibitions are free to visit. Our opening hours are Monday - Friday 10am - 4pm.

The venue is fully wheelchair accessible with a lift down to the lower ground floor exhibition space. We offer large print guides of exhibition content and transcription of sounds clips upon request. Assistance dogs are welcome.

If you have any other needs, please email us at rcn.library@rcn.org.uk and we will assist you wherever possible.


RCN Library and Heritage Centre
20 Cavendish Square

20 Cavendish Square is located behind John Lewis, Oxford Street.


The nearest stations are Oxford Circus and Bond Street.


There are many buses routes that stop nearby, including the 10, 25, 55, 73, 98 and 390.

Page last updated - 03/09/2021