The Fan Museum: Rippers and Spies

Having opened in 1991 The Fan Museum was the first museum in the world dedicated to the art of the fan. I’ve mentioned the Fan Museum when I met one of their award winning volunteers and it has been on My Ever Growing List of Museums To Visit, and finally I’ve been able to make it there.

Housed in two magnificently restored listed Georgian Buildings in the nice bit of Greenwich (right around the corner from the Maritime Museum) the museum has over 4,000 fans, some dating back to the 11th century. Some, however, are much more recent and, well, it seems that some of the art has gone out of fan making. What do you think?


At least it makes you appreciate the beauty of the older ones all the more.

The museum has been called an “oasis of tranquility” and it’s true, there is a very calming atmosphere here. But there is a hint of something darker underneath everything. Let me introduce you to this fan acquired by the museum in 2004, Little Dot Hetherington at the Old Bedford Theatre  painted by Walter Sickert (1860-1942).


It may seem innocent enough, but some think that Sickert might have been Jack the Ripper.

The fan that really caught my imagination, though, was this one:

Known as The Mask and dating from around 1750, you can almost imagine an eighteenth century spy lurking behind this mask, peeping through the eye-holes, observing like one from the 1950s would from behind a newspaper…




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