Showcasing the history and art of fans and fan-making, the quaint Fan Museum in Greenwich is home to an extensive collection of historic fans from around the world.
- Admire ‘Landscape in Martinique’ a nineteenth-century fan featuring a painting by Impressionist painter, Paul Gauguin.
- Explore the Upper Floor Galleries, home to fascinating temporary exhibitions designed to display the extraordinary richness and breadth of the Fan Museum’s collections.
- Learn about the history of Japanese fans, and see examples, which are often hundreds of years old, such as the Fixed Fan (c1870).
What to see and do
The Fan Museum is a little gem of a museum staffed by a friendly and knowledgeable team of volunteers. It is located in two charming Georgian houses, only a short step from the main tourist attractions of Greenwich. Allow one or two hours to see its exhibits.
The Ground Floor
The Ground Floor is home to a permanent exhibition about the history of fan-making. On the walls are some attractive prints inspired by fans.
The Garden and Orangery
Accessed down a half flight of steps is the Japanese inspired ‘secret’ garden with its fan-shaped parterre, and the Orangery offers traditional English afternoon tea. There is an atmosphere of calm and friendliness here and throughout the Museum, making it an ideal place to escape the city hustle and bustle.
The Gift Shop
The gift shop unsurprisingly sells every variety of non-electrical fan and replicas of many of the fans displayed in the Museum. One of the most popular items is a fan that doubles up as a bonnet and is available in a range of colours. If you like fans, you will find plenty to please you in this charming gift shop.
Fan Making Workshops
Fan making workshops are usually held on the first Saturday of each month so if you are a fan of fans, why not book yourself on? It’s a truly immersive experience with an experienced tutor who will share a wealth of knowledge about everything to do with fans.
Booking in advance is essential as groups are limited to eight persons who must be over the age of twelve. Participants will either make a traditional Chinese fan or an ornate folding fan in the style of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Did you know: (3 interesting facts!)
- Fans adorn all areas of the house inside and out – there are wrought-iron fans on and even fan-shaped soaps and fan tiles in the washrooms.
- The Fan Museum is the only place in Britain to celebrate the art of fan-making and to restore historical fans and make new ones.
- Have you ever heard of a pistol fan, a dagger fan and a cigar fan? You can learn all about quirky fans in the upstairs section of the Museum.
- 10th-century AD – this is the age of the oldest fan in the collection, an incredibly rare Peruvian fan made from intricately plaited fibres and adorned with yellow Macaw feathers.
- 1721 – was the year the two houses in which the Fan Museum is located were built. They are now classed as Grade 1 listed buildings and are part of the Greenwich World Heritage Site.
- 1991 – the Fan Museum was founded by Dicky and Hélène Alexander, mainly as a way of displaying Hélène’s own extensive collection.
- 2008 – the Duchess of Cornwall becomes a patron of the Fan Museum. She has visited it since on several occasions, most recently in December 2019.
- 3rd February 2020 – the Fan Museum announces a significant acquisition, an exceptionally rare ‘Flag Fan’ from the sixteenth century.
- 16th March, 2020 – the Fan Museum temporarily closes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Facilities and accessibility
On entrance to the Fan Museum, visitors are given a folder, filled with information about the exhibits and the facilities.
The Fan Museum is committed to making its facilities as accessible as possible. People with disabilities can pay a lower concessionary rate. Carers of people with disabilities do not have to pay an entrance fee.
The Museum has ramped wheelchair access, a lift to the Museum’s upper and lower floors, toilets for the disabled, including an area with baby-changing facilities.
Assistance dogs are the only animals allowed into the museum.