The Fan Museum

The Fan Museum The Fan Museum is the first and only museum in the UK devoted in its entirety to all aspects of the ancient art and craft of the fan. *The Fan Museum is closed from Monday 16th March until further notice.
(57)

Please visit our website for more information. The museum owes its existence to the vision of Hélène Alexander and her late husband, A.V (Dicky) Alexander. When the museum opened its doors to the public back in 1991, the Alexander’s had already been working on the project for some five years. Hélène, over a prolonged period, had amassed an internationally significant collection of fans, fan leaves and associated literature (now numbering over 4000 objects) and the founding of The Fan Museum reflected her desire to promote, conserve, and display fans to a wide audience. In the intermittent years, the museum has staged over sixty temporary exhibitions covering a diverse range of themes: from “Children in Fans” through to “Imperial Fans from The Hermitage”, visitors to the Greenwich based museum have been treated to exhibitions of great depth and artistic merit.

Operating as usual

Today’s lookback through The Fan Museum’s archive of past exhibitions transports us back in time to the year 2000 when #...
21/09/2020

Today’s lookback through The Fan Museum’s archive of past exhibitions transports us back in time to the year 2000 when #otd ‘The Jewel and the Fan’ brought an air of unbridled opulence to our elegant Georgian-period interiors.
Throughout the winter months, the Museum’s upper floor galleries shimmered and sparkled with a breath-taking display of fans dating from the eighteenth century onward, each demonstrating exquisite workmanship by fan stick makers, goldsmiths and jewellers alike. Designed to wow rather than simply cool, the arrangements emphasised the notion of fans as luxury commodities and tangible indicators of prosperity, status and taste.

Horn brisé fan, France, ca. 1820/30The Fan Museum, Helene Alexander collectionImage: Rhian Cox, 2018
17/09/2020

Horn brisé fan, France, ca. 1820/30
The Fan Museum, Helene Alexander collection
Image: Rhian Cox, 2018

This week our periodic review of past exhibitions transports us back to the year 1999 when #otd the exhibition ‘Match th...
03/09/2020

This week our periodic review of past exhibitions transports us back to the year 1999 when #otd the exhibition ‘Match the Fan’ occupied The Fan Museum's elegant Georgian-period interiors.

The premise for the exhibition was simple but effective – to show examples of historical portraiture alongside fans of similar styles and periods from the Museum’s collections. In this post we reproduce a selection of featured portraits and a number of fans originally displayed within corresponding sections of the exhibition.

During a recent search of the US National Archives catalogue, we discovered an illustrated patent application submitted ...
28/08/2020

During a recent search of the US National Archives catalogue, we discovered an illustrated patent application submitted in 1830 by Commodore James Barron (1769-1851) of Norfolk, Virginia.

While women, heavily corseted and swathed in layers of fabric, fanned themselves furiously with handheld articles, 'hard working men' (!) reclined upon couches, puffed water pipes and let Barron's mechanical fan do the work for them.

The inventor states that the fan could be put to good use in 'bedchambers...dining rooms and halls.'

Follow the link through the US National Archive catalogue to learn more: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/594907

The Fan Museum's online collection database features a significant proportion of The Fan Museum Trust's collection of 2,...
25/08/2020

The Fan Museum's online collection database features a significant proportion of The Fan Museum Trust's collection of 2,500+ objects. As we continue to work toward creating engaging forms of collections access, why not spend some time browsing the database and, in particular, become better acquainted with some of our recent acquisitions, such as the fine quality folding fan which illustrates this post.

Follow the link to begin your search: www.thefanmuseum.org.uk/collections

Folding fan, Donzel / Alexandre, France, ca. 1880; The Fan Museum Trust Collection, LDFAN2019.8.
Mother of pearl monture, the skin leaf painted on the obverse with winged putti inviting a man and woman to traverse a gated bridge, the scene inscribed 'droit de passage pour l’ile de cythere'. Signed by the artist, Donzel (and by the maker, Alexandre, on the reverse).
In ancient mythology the Greek island of Cythera was thought to be the birthplace of Venus, goddess of love. The subject, popularised by Court painter Watteau (1684-1721), was again fashionable in the nineteenth century and decorates a number of fans associated with marriage.

George IV (aka 'Prinny'), King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (and Hanover from 1820 until his death...
12/08/2020

George IV (aka 'Prinny'), King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (and Hanover from 1820 until his death in 1830) was born #otd at St James's Palace in the year 1762.

To mark the occasion, a fan with fruit wood sticks and double paper leaf with cut work (découpé) borders and monochrome etchings commemorating his birth. On one side, beneath a galleon, sits the figure of Queen Charlotte with the infant George (Prince of Wales) on her lap. She points to a figure of Plenty who carries a cornucopia and olive branch. Another figure (Temperance?) pours wine above which are motifs of a wheat sheaf (symbolising prosperity) and a hanging ram (a reference to the Order of the Golden Fleece).
The other side carries the Prince of Wales' feathers, motto 'Ich Dien' (I serve) and a prayer for the infant's well being.

Folding fan, France, ca. 1865Ivory, gilt metal, turquoise & seed pearl; gouache on paper, canepinThe Fan Museum, Helene ...
11/08/2020

Folding fan, France, ca. 1865
Ivory, gilt metal, turquoise & seed pearl; gouache on paper, canepin
The Fan Museum, Helene Alexander Collection

Image: Rhian Cox, 2019

Fasten your fontange! We're heading back to the year 2003 when #otd the exhibition ‘A Fanfare for the Sun King’ brought ...
10/08/2020

Fasten your fontange! We're heading back to the year 2003 when #otd the exhibition ‘A Fanfare for the Sun King’ brought an air of pomp and ceremony to our Grade II* Listed interiors. Showcasing fans and extended fan paintings dating from the illustrious reign of Louis XIV (1643-1715) the exhibition drew together key treasures from The Fan Museum and other important loans from UK and overseas cultural organisations and private collections.

Aiming to ‘lead visitors on a voyage of discovery into the world of the Sun King and Versailles’, the respected historian Pamela Cowen worked assiduously to identify and interpret subjects and sources, her findings subsequently presented in a fascinating and richly illustrated publication available to purchase via the Museum’s online gift shop:
www.thefanmuseum.org.uk/shop/a-fanfare-for-the-sun-king

A significant proportion of the objects displayed in the exhibition and therefore illustrating this post were so-called ‘extended fan paintings’ (‘mis au rectangle’ in French). The term is often applied to unmounted fan leaves (sometimes bearing the scars of pleats, other times not) glued to wood panels mostly rectangular in shape. The paintings which decorate the leaves extend outward toward the panel edges, effectively transforming the fan painting into a work of art which, to the untrained eye, seems entirely regular in appearance.

A considerable number of 17th Century French fan paintings have been adapted in this manner and are explained in varying ways by fan scholars and enthusiasts. Those which bear pleat marks and damage to the areas of the leaf usually fixed to the outer guard sticks were perhaps removed from their corresponding, potentially broken montures (the articulated frames which support the leaf) and preserved accordingly. It is also possible that some extended fan paintings were made purely as a means to circumnavigate the statutes of the Guild of Master Fan Makers (established in 1678 with the aim of bringing order and regulation to a complex system of fan manufacture in France) which stated fan painters were permitted only to make fan paintings. The anonymous individuals who created these curious, hybrid works of art sometimes took great care to blend the two components for it is often difficult to discern the edges of the fan leaf from the extended areas of the panel to which it’s mounted, especially true if the painting carries a glossy coating of varnish.

The accompanying image captions are taken from TFM exhibition catalogue, A Fanfare for the Sun King, 2003.

Let’s step back in time to the year 2015 when #otd the exhibition ‘Fans of the Belle Époque’ brought a touch of glitz an...
03/08/2020

Let’s step back in time to the year 2015 when #otd the exhibition ‘Fans of the Belle Époque’ brought a touch of glitz and glamour to our Georgian interiors. The displays encompassed the years 1890 to 1910 – a period known as 'La Belle Époque' (literally, beautiful era) and featured fans manufactured almost exclusively in France.
Maison Duvelleroy, established in 1827 by the entrepreneur Jean-Pierre Duvelleroy, was arguably the most prolific fan maker of the period and so featured prominently within the displays. With boutiques in London and Paris presided over by the Founder’s two sons, competing brothers Georges and Jules (the latter born out of wedlock), Duvelleroy and their numerous competitors catered not only to the European elite, but to an increasingly wealthy American market for whom money was, quite literally, no object. At the opposite end of the consumer goods spectrum Duvelleroy and their numerous competitors also designed and manufactured inexpensive advertising fans for businesses such as hotels, restaurants and department stores looking to enhance their brand image and cultivate customer loyalty with attractive giveaways.
Amidst an atmosphere of conspicuous consumption, extravagant, statement-making fans were the height of fashion. They might be large scale and semi-circular when fully unfurled or rather more compact in size and shape: the ‘fontange’ for example, took its name from a similarly shaped headdress first worn by women in the seventeenth century. Many of the subjects which decorate the period’s fans are of a curious, fantastical nature. Mermaids, nymphs and languorous sirens; dragon flies and sumptuous sprays of full-blown flowers evoke the hedonistic, darker elements of Belle Époque society and its most striking visual manifestation, Art Nouveau.

This week our review of the Museum's rich archive of fan-themed exhibitions continues as we journey back through time to...
23/07/2020

This week our review of the Museum's rich archive of fan-themed exhibitions continues as we journey back through time to the year 1995 when #otd our upper floor galleries played host to ‘Collectors Choice’, a special display of fans lent by individual members of the Fan Circle International (FCI).

Celebrating its twentieth anniversary in that same year, the FCI was established to further study and appreciation of fans and fan making. Having celebrated its fortieth anniversary in 2015, the organisation continues to flourish and today attracts a truly international membership of fan scholars, collectors and enthusiasts. If you’d like to learn more about the FCI’s activities and membership options, please visit their website: https://www.fancircleinternational.org/

The Fan Museum’s Founder and Director, Helene Alexander was also a founding member of the Fan Circle International, serving as its first president. From her exceptional private collection, she lent several fans to the exhibition, some of which illustrate this post.

‘Life in plastic, it’s fantastic!’ trilled Danish pop group, Aqua, back in 1997. Fast forward to 2020 and the overuse of...
16/07/2020

‘Life in plastic, it’s fantastic!’ trilled Danish pop group, Aqua, back in 1997. Fast forward to 2020 and the overuse of synthetic materials within industries such as fashion and food production is of global concern and dovetails into wider issues of sustainability; and yet plastics remain worryingly prevalent in almost every field of mass manufacturing - fans included.

We’re scooting back to 2012 when from Feb to June 'Fans in the Age of Plastics’ filled our galleries with a colourful & kitsch display of fans incorporating synthetic materials. The opening section, however, featured several fans made from horn and tortoiseshell - nature’s thermoplastics. Subjected to heat and pressure, the materials can be manipulated and reshaped according to fashion dictates. Twentieth century innovations came in the form of gleaming fan sticks dyed extraordinarily vivid shades – unashamedly plastic! - or replicating the characteristic properties of more costly materials such as ivory or tortoiseshell. To the untrained eye it can be difficult to differentiate between plastics and the materials they're designed to replicate.

Continuing our exploration of past exhibitions, this week we drift back through the mists of time to the year 2000 when ...
09/07/2020

Continuing our exploration of past exhibitions, this week we drift back through the mists of time to the year 2000 when #onthisday our elegant Georgian interiors played host to ‘Sea Breezes’, a colourful celebration of all things nautical!

Beginning in the late-17th century & covering more than 300 years of fan-history & culture, the displays touched upon numerous sub-themes including mythology, leisure & tourism, trade, commerce & naval battles (the latter being an especially appropriate subject, given the Museum's location within Royal Greenwich, a borough steeped in maritime history.)

Amongst the earliest fans displayed were those decorated with mythological tales of fantastical sea creatures & Greek Goddesses emerging triumphant from watery depths; others, painted with panoramic views of 18th century seaports bustling with activity alluded to the booming trade partnerships forged between East & West.

A number of late-19th century fans evoked the heyday of coastal resorts & the beginnings of mass tourism, their colourful graphics suggesting journey by train to a variety of French seaside destinations including la Rochelle & Biarritz; others invited travel further afield - by ship to cities such as New York where vast numbers of European (mostly Jewish) immigrants resettled having fled lives endangered by increasing persecution & poverty.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, this year The Fan Museum is unable to curate the usual three themed exhibitions, o...
03/07/2020

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, this year The Fan Museum is unable to curate the usual three themed exhibitions, our staff having exited the Museum back in March, shortly after opening 'Heroic Figures', our 82nd (!) exhibition since first opening to the public back in May 1991.

Whilst we continue to plan for a safe and timely reopening, now feels like the perfect moment to delve into the archives, reflect upon some of our past exhibitions and preview some of the fans associated with them.

The month of July is usually one of our busiest and over the years our summer exhibitions have touched upon an exceptionally broad range of themes. This week we travel back to 2014 when #onthisday the upper floor galleries played host to ‘Seduced! Fans and the Art of Advertising.’

The exhibition revealed how commercial art, a dynamic, seductive art-form emerged during the late nineteenth century to play a pivotal role in cultivating mass consumer culture. The exhibition featured a colourful array of fans made to promote leisure activities such as travel, dining & shopping. Luxury brands were equally well represented with fans advertising champagne, perfume and couture. Many of the fans exhibited featured designs by masters of commercial art including Leonetto Cappiello, Cassandre and Jean D’Ylen whose striking graphic prints evoke a remarkable age of decadent consumption.

From today onwards the mercury is set to keep on rising here in the UK. Keep your cool and head over to our recently rel...
23/06/2020

From today onwards the mercury is set to keep on rising here in the UK. Keep your cool and head over to our recently relaunched online gift shop where you'll find an affordable and stylish selection of hand fans on offer. And remember: every single purchase supports the Museum and its work during these challenging times:
https://www.thefanmuseum.org.uk/shop

16/06/2020
Street fans - exhibition The Fan Museum 2017

Fan expert & good friend of The Fan Museum, Georgina Letourmy-Bordier, just added a short video of our 2017 'Street Fans' exhibition to her YouTube channel. Please take a look and, if you've not already done so, head over to our Google Arts and Culture page and make a virtual tour of the 'Street Fans' project: https://g.co/arts/wEJdaW7Gr2yK4sbX6

Following a successful crowdfunding campaign through Art Happens, The Fan Museum presents Street Fans: A Unique Liaison between Street Art and Fan Making. Jo...

As quarantine restrictions relating to travel to and from the UK come in to force, overseas holidays are looking increas...
08/06/2020

As quarantine restrictions relating to travel to and from the UK come in to force, overseas holidays are looking increasingly unlikely in the near future. Meanwhile, enjoy this selection of travel-themed fans!

The Fan Museum is pleased to share an article written by the Museum's Founder/Director, Hélène Alexander MBE, herself a ...
22/05/2020

The Fan Museum is pleased to share an article written by the Museum's Founder/Director, Hélène Alexander MBE, herself a leading authority on fans.

The richly illustrated article focuses on fans from the Museum's collection decorated with subjects pertaining to the legend of Cleopatra VII, the last of the Egypt's Ptolemaic rulers.

To download a copy of the article, click through to our website:
https://www.thefanmuseum.org.uk/news/read-a-fascinating-article-by-helene-alexander

Please note that all Friends of The Fan Museum will shortly receive a printed copy of the article, along with a colouring sheet. Even more reasons to consider joining up and helping to support the work of the Museum during these challenging times. Further information about the Friends' scheme can be found here: https://www.thefanmuseum.org.uk/support

Head over to our website and download a free colouring sheet of a mask-fan from our collection. Have fun with it and sha...
14/05/2020

Head over to our website and download a free colouring sheet of a mask-fan from our collection. Have fun with it and share your efforts here and on Twitter, remembering to tag us using the #colourfan hashtag: https://www.thefanmuseum.org.uk/news/colour-a-fan

Today marks The Fan Museum's 29th birthday. On such an occasion we would usually find ourselves raising a glass of bubbl...
05/05/2020

Today marks The Fan Museum's 29th birthday. On such an occasion we would usually find ourselves raising a glass of bubbly and enjoying cake with our colleagues, wonderful volunteers and visitors. This year we can only send out to all our supporters gratitude and good wishes and hope you'll return to celebrate our 30th anniversary in 2021.

On this day, 05 May 1991 The Fan Museum's inaugural exhibition, 'Children in Fans' opened and the Museum's Founders, Helene Alexander and her late husband 'Dicky' A.V Alexander were on hand to welcome visitor number 1, the moment captured here in the attached photo.

Happy Birthday to The Fan Museum and congratulations to Mrs Alexander for her continued dedication!

Address

12 Crooms Hill
London
SE10 8ER

Alerts

Be the first to know and let us send you an email when The Fan Museum posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Contact The Museum

Send a message to The Fan Museum:

Videos

Category

Nearby museums


Comments

hello, good morning! Any chance of the museum opening in September?
Throughout the years, many objects have been donated to or acquired for the National Collection. Two little-known treasures are these delicate 18th-century fans. They are decorated with images of well-dressed noble men, women and children enjoying the countryside. Rococo floral vignettes make up the decorative borders. Painted on paper and mounted on ivory slats, these fragile fans are in good condition. They will be displayed in the ‘Style for Status’ gallery currently being set up at MUŻA. This gallery will feature costumes, decorative objects, everyday items and paintings that show how the 18th century noble families of Malta lived. . . . #MUZA #MUZAmalta #beMUZA #beInspired #heritagemalta #nationalcollection #museum #decorativearts #appliedarts #costume
Please could you give me some information on this fan. It is 20” when opened. Many thanks
This beautiful lady helped me a lot, when I came to the museum she is, kind, and cute
thanx
This beautiful lady helped me a lot, when I was brought to the museum she is, kind, and cute
Can you point me to a vendor who sells fan rivets? I have an inexpensive fan I purchased on ebay and I need to replace the broken rivet. Thank you! (I am in the US)
Greetings . I present to you my page dedicated to NARBO MARTIVS ( Roman Narbonne , south of the France ) , NARBONENSIS capital's , second Roman port after OSTIA in North-Western Europe and city among the top 20 according with the very famous Roman author AVSONIVS ( Ausone ) in ORDO VRBIVM NOBILIVM ( order of great noble cities ) : Narbo Martivs , première fille de Rome .
Saw these fans for sale today. Any idea of when and where they were made?
I love the fan museum
I am a Brazilian art historian now preparing the edition of a book on 19th century fans made in China to celebrate Portuguese and Brazilian historical events. I would appreciate to include in my book the "Apotheosis of John VI", HA 173 of your collection, but I have neither an image nor the technical data of it. Could you be so kind as to send me both? Many years ago Mrs. Helene Alexander informed me in a letter the existence of this, and another fan possibly related to Portugal, HA 1119 - in her own words "na importante marriage". I am also curious about this fan. Very cordially yours, José Roberto Teixeira Leite, São Paulo, Brazil.
Wow love your feed, thanks for sharing!