The Fan Museum is the UK’s only museum dedicated to fans and the craft of fan making. You’ll find this cultural gem in Crooms Hill, a winding road that connects the hustle and bustle of historic Greenwich to the Royal Observatory and Meridian Line.
The museum spans two Grade II listed Georgian townhouses and is jammed full of the most exquisite objects, encompassing more than 1000 years of fans and fan making. This unique place is truly one of London’s museum gems and should be a destination for anyone visiting Greenwich.
From the moment you step over the threshold of this 1721 building, you will feel as if you have walked into someone’s Regency-era home. A Jane Eyre-worthy Orangerie Room on the garden level adds to the romanticism of the building. Sadly, the Orangerie used to serve one of the best cream teas in London, but now is only available for private hire. It’s also where some of the lectures are held.
The Fan Museum was founded in 1991 by husband-and-wife team Hélène Alexander and her late husband, A.V. Alexander. Egyptian-born Hélène started acquiring her vast collection of fans in the 1970s. The museum opened to the public in 1991 and is now celebrating its 32 years.
The Flag Fan is a sixteenth-century gem and was probably manufactured in Venice. A fan such as this one would have been an expensive accessory and a serious status symbol.
The Fan Museum strives to promote the awareness and appreciation of the history, culture and artistry of fans and fan-making through exhibitions (of which about 300 have been staged).
There is also an impressive collection of fans which includes the Hélène Alexander Collection and The Fan Museum Trust Collection of gifts, bequests and acquisitions. The collection can also be viewed online.
Coronations and Celebrations
In celebration of the crowning of King Charles III and the Queen Consort, the Fan Museum has opened a new exhibition: Coronations and Celebrations. Apparently, the Queen Consort is a great fan (pardon the pun) of the museum.
The displays include fans from significant royal events from across the continent, such as royal weddings.
Coronations and Celebrations is on until 24 June and is included with entry to the museum.
Events at the Fan Museum
The Fan Museum holds (very popular) fan-making workshops on the first Saturday of each month. More information here.
Check the website for lectures which take place in the Orangerie downstairs.
The Fan Museum is open Wednesdays to Saturdays 11am to 5pm. Adult tickets cost £5 with concessions at £3. Art Fund Pass members go free of charge.
Address: 12 Crooms Hill, Greenwich, London, SE10 8ER. Nearest station: Greenwich & Cutty Sark DLR
Feature image: Hélène Alexander Collection