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Entrance to Greenwich Fan Museum

Fans: War & Peace

8th October 2009 - 28th February 2010

Fans: War & Peace

The sight, on television over the last few years, of our brave troops going into battle has inspired The Fan Museum to look more closely into the subject of fans with a military theme, and is the source of the forthcoming exhibition Fans: War and Peace on show at The Fan Museum, Greenwich, from 8th October 2009 until 28th February 2010 – a project only made possible through the Entente Cordiale, which exists between The Fan Museum and Le Cercle de l’Eventail.

This exhibition encompasses a history of the World seen through objects too long regarded as frivolous accessories to dress. As such it presents many rare, fascinating and resonant items whose design, imagery and provenance will provide visitors with important new insights into the depiction of warfare throughout the ages.

Many of the earlier fans derive from well know paintings by artists such as Rubens, Pietro da Cortona, Albani, Guido Reni etc. These in turn spring from an interest and inspiration, at that time, in the Antique. Often a tribute to a great monarch was to represent him as one of the heroes of antiquity. Battles such as those of Alexander the Great, the chivalry of emperors such as Titus and even biblical subjects such as David and Abigail are an excuse for splendid compositions, with men in armour. Often, in the background is an encampment with tents and other objects contemporary with the painting itself.

Fans of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries are full of such representations, while, by the middle of the eighteenth century more realistic fans show the military in uniform, in their role in society, a role which was to become even more evident in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Furthermore, in the eighteenth century, with the growing demand for cheaper fans, printed with popular subjects of the day, such as an important victory, a celebration of a popular naval or military leader or even a caricature of the “enemy, could overnight appear on fan leaves.

Nineteenth century fans relate to uniform and the increasing importance of the military in everyday life such as the growth of services like the Red Cross, while the twentieth century with World Wars I and II brings the picture to life with startling realism. Nor should warrior nations such as Japan, where the fan can also be a weapon, be forgotten in this “exercise”.

The subject is so vast, that The Fan Museum will be showing a first exhibit on “Home Territory”, at 12, Crooms Hill and early next year a further more detailed exhibit of fans on a military theme in a social context will be seen at the Heritage Centre in Woolwich; concurrently, fans which show guns, canon and relevant illustrations may be viewed at Firepower, the museum of the Royal Artillery, also in Woolwich. In the New Year, The Fan Museum’s Coldstream Guards fan, painted by Wymer, goes to The Guards Museum in London.

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Museum Opening Times


11h00 -17h00 (last admissions 16h30)


11h00 -17h00 (last admissions 16h30)


11h00 -17h00 (last admissions 16h30)


11h00 -17h00 (last admissions 16h30)

12 Crooms Hill, Greenwich,
London SE10 8ER


Adults: £5.00

Concessions: Info £3.00

Children (age 7-12): £3.00

Free Entry for...

Children under 7, Art Fund Members and London Pass Members

Wednesday Special:

Free entry for carers and disabled visitors (not as part of a group)

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Museum Admission Pricing

Adults: £5.00
Concessions: £3.00
  • Students (with valid student card)
  • Children aged 6-17 years
  • Senior citizens
  • Registered disabled
  • Museum Association members
  • Friends of The Horniman
  • Friends of The Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Royal Museums Greenwich members
  • Staff/Volunteers of the National Maritime Museum
Free Entry for…

Children aged 6 years and under, Art Fund Members and London Pass Members

Wednesday Special:

Free entry for senior citizens and disabled visitors (except for groups)

Please note that the discounts listed above cannot be applied when visitors are part of a large group visit or guided tour group.  Please click here for further details.

Group Bookings

The Museum is open as usual Wednesdays to Saturdays, 10h00-17h00 (last admissions at 16h30).

Please note that we will be closed from Thursday 2nd June to Saturday 4th June inclusive for the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday.

Thank you for your understanding.