Sunday, 25 December 2011

Fan Museums - Museums with Fans

Fans are the divas among collectible objects: you cannot exhibit them permanently without risking to damage them: light is the biggest enemy, followed by heat or cold, dryness or wetness. If stored open, you may never be able to fold them; if stored closed, you may damage the folds - and you don't see the leaf design. It seems that whatever you do, cannot be right for a fan. Hence, many fans are Sleeping Beauties in museum archives that are never kissed to life. But temporary exhibitions and the new technologies allow insights into the hidden treasures of fans.
Fan Museums:
"The Fan Museum" in Greenwich is the best known and first museum that was exclusively dedicated to fans.
The Handfan Museum, the only fan museum in the USA
Fächermuseum Bielefeld, a small private fan museum in Germany
Musee de l'éventail  and AnneHoguet's, website (Paris, France)

Museums with Fans displayed on-line:
The Royal Collection London, "textiles and fans" - very well documented photos of the fans in the Royal Collection
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, has almost all its fans on display, among them fans by Degas, Pissarro and the famous George Barbier Fan painted on ivory
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam: Its exhibition "Accessorize" in an on-line version with fans; or try the "fan game"

Fan friends and their websites

I always wanted to have one website where I can find everything on fans. Well, this may be a bit over-ambitious,  but let's try to see where we end. Here the beautiful websites of fan friends - and if I forgot some, write a comment and add it!

The photo left is my old website - static pages that are no more up-dated but still with some interesting topics, like celluloid fans, love symbols on fans etc.

Anna's collection of fan-tastic fans, IT and EN
David's fan collection throughout the centuries, EN and DE
Of cats and fans: Eva's beautiful collection with many animals on fans
The "Place d'eventail" with fan history and mystery EN and FR
Wedding and mourning fans and much more EN
An Italian collection - I love the Art Deco horse racing fan, IT
Just "found" some more websites with fans:
Sulle ali del tempo, IT
and another Italian fan website. [Another one does not work any more,
A website about flag fans


This blog is about fans. Fans, eventails, Fächer, abanicos, ventagli, waaiers,...these little objects to create a soft breeze when summers are getting hot. Once "accessoire de rigeur" for the fashionable lady with idle hands, they disappeared from the female toilette, victim of working women, the cigarette and air conditioning. Instead, they became sought-after collectibles.

Since the beginning of mankind, the fan was a tool to alleviate heat, fan the fire and chase away flies. Out of these three tasks developed big ceremonial fans (e.g. to fan the pharaoh or to whisk away flies from the roman-catholic altar) and small personal fans. With the emergence of the folding fan (the ultimate concept of fans invented around the 12th century in Japan), a new feature came into place: that of surprise when unfolding the fan. A female prestige object often compared to a king's sceptre, it became a fashion attribute from the 18th century onwards and Paris became its centre, followed by England and The Netherlands where the Huguenot "eventaillistes" found refuge. Fan leaves were painted according to fashion, with mythological scenes, pastoral scenes in romantic settings, or historical events like balloon ascents or war scenes. With ups and downs, the fan kept its mainly female usage until WWI after which the last heyday were advertising fans and the huge ostrich feather fans of the 1920s. After WW2, fans reappeared occasionally as airline fans. The only country in Europe that still produces and uses fans is Spain.