Fans, the quintessential accessory of old. From Japanese Empress to the Victorian Aristocrats. They have been a common aspect to a ladies outfit throughout history across the world and what better place to go to see fans of old than the Fan Museum.
The Fan Museum opened in 1991 and is based in Greenwich, one of the most historically and culturally rich parts of London. The museum is also currently one of the only museums to exhibit fans and fan making as it’s central focus in the UK. The museum houses 4,00 fans from around the world dating back to the 11th Century.
On arriving at the fan museum with my little four legged sidekick by my side I was greeted by a very informative and friendly receptionist who explained the layout of the museum and their current exhibitions.
The museum is based in a Victorian three story house with an Orangery and picturesque garden. It is decorated with original furnishings and has a very aristocratic feel to it’s decor.
The first room I entered was the Green Room, in which I discovered some delightful fans ranging from the traditional, to the abstract, to the beautiful. The first exhibit I encountered on the far right hand side of the room were the 19th Century French Fans that were crafted in the typical Oriental fashion with beautiful silk and were also my favourite fans in the entire museum.
There were also displays that presented beautifully made fans from Italy and some that were crafted from Ivory and whist I don’t advocate the ivory trade, the craftsmanship was utterly stunning. However, this wouldn’t be my fan of choice due to where that certain material was sourced.
The Green Room also played host to some very conventional fans such as the classic and renowned Oriental Fans. There were also some stunning fans crafted from Mother of Pearl that I utterly adored and would be very proud to hold in my hand. But, alas such things were not meant me.
Globe Trotting: Current Exhibition
- Image of a Caribbean Fan
The current exhibition at the Fan Museum on the Second Floor is an amazing collection of fans from across the globe in the space of two exhibition rooms. You can travel the world by perusing this exhibition as you fly from Japan to Burma, from England to the Caribbean.
My favourite exhibition was the Caribbean selection of fans made from flower petals and other items you’d find on the Caribbean Coast.
- An image of a fan made entirely from pigeon feathers
- An image of fashioneyesta enjoying cream tea
For just £6, you can have afternoon tea in the beautiful setting of the Fan Museum Orangery. You have the option of having tea or coffee and are served a freshly baked scone, a slice of Victoria sponge, lemon cake, a chocolate brownie and a piece of fruit cake.
Now excuse me whilst I dash out to buy a new pair of jeans with an elasticated waist.
Visit the website for more information on the afternoon tea.
The museum is spacious and light and the rooms are easy to negotiate. There is also a lift, making the museum fully accessible for wheelchair users and those with other mobility needs. Members of staff are on hand to operate the lift, I would advise you to contact the museum for further information.
The staff were all very friendly towards me and my guide dog and informative of the museum. The staff in the Orangery, serving Afternoon Tea were very assistive and regularly offered us more beverages.
Quality of Exhibition: 5/5
Excellent! It’s really worth the visit, all of the fans are beautiful and there is a large variety of fans from across the world. Also, the afternoon tea was delicious and very good value for money.
The Fan Museum Information
12 Crooms Hill
Open Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11am-5pm/ Sunday 12pm-5pm
Admission Information: £4 per adult, £3 for concession, Students, Senior Citizens, Art Fund, English Heritage, Friends of The Horniman, Friends of The Victoria and Albert Museum, and Members of the National Maritime Museum.
Senior citizens and disabled people go free on a Tuesday.
Public Transport: There are many good bus links and the museum is a short walk from Greenwich DLR and Greenwich Station.