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Celebrations - Fan Museum

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

A NEW exhibition entitled Celebrations is on display at The Fan Museum in Greenwich from December 4, 2007 to February 24, 2008.

As December approaches, Christmas is acknowledged as a time of celebrations by many different nations and cultures. However, throughout the year there are numerous times when people or countries choose to come together to honour significant dates and events.

This exhibition explores how fans have very often been the item of choice to celebrate or commemorate these special occasions, and features a selection of eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century, mainly European fans that are decorated with images of festivities from their day.

For example, on December 1, 1783, half the population of Paris gathered in the Tuileries Gardens to watch the ascent of a “Carline” or hydrogen balloon. This, and the success of two earlier ascents, one in June and the other in November of that year, meant that, since January 1 was just one month away, (and that it was customary to give presents for the New Year), anything that might constitute a gift must be decorated “à la ballon.”

Since the time of Elizabeth I, fans have been one of the most acceptable of gifts; indeed several fans are mentioned in the Queen’s wardrobe list of 1600, mostly presents for the New Year celebrations.

Ballooning fans are now rare, but they are not the only unusual fans on display in Celebrations. Parties, dances, royal births and marriages, calendars shaped as fans, mythological banquets, political events, are all subjects for the fans which mark an occasion for rejoicing.

An exclusive tour of the exhibition, followed by an international medley of small eats and a glass of mulled wine in the Orangery, will take place on December 11, 2007 from 6 to 8pm. The number of visitors is limited to 40 and tickets cost £10. To book call 020 8305 1441.

The Fan Museum, 12 Crooms Hill, Greenwich, London, SE10.

Times: Tuesday to Saturday – 11am to 5pm; Sunday – 12noon to 5pm.

Admission: £4 (adults), £3 (concessions), free for OAPs and Disabled on Tuesdays from 2 to 5pm (except for groups), free for children under 7.