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The Fan Museum (& Orangery) remains closed to the public until further notice - see News for updates
Entrance to Greenwich Fan Museum

Fashion in the Palm of Your Hand

6th June - 26th October 2008

Fashion in the palm of your hand

The exhibition Fashion in the Palm of your Hand is the culmination of the innovative creativity of Central Saint Martins combined with the solid tradition of The Fan Museum, the first museum in the world exclusively dedicated to fans.

Just like today’s ‘It’ bag, the fan was once considered a must-have accessory for the fashion conscious woman. As the ultimate feminine status symbol, Elizabeth I popularised their use in England, and women ever since have used fans as both an implement of flirtation and a display of wealth and power. Indeed, early examples encrusted with jewels and hewn from precious materials show how the fan was an extension of the opulence of court life. However, the fan is now a less exclusive object used in many different contexts ranging from pop videos, to fashion shows, photo shoots, and even advertising campaigns. In fact it seems that the fan is very often used more for what it may represent, than for the practical purpose of cooling its owner.

Fashion in the Palm of your Hand is a unique exhibition that explores fans as a filter for understanding fashion as a social and historical indicator. Throughout history, the fan has been adapted to fit its context. From the austere aesthetics of Oliver Cromwell, to John Galliano, whose Spring Summer 2007 Haute Couture show for Dior sought inspiration in the fan; and even the Burlesque artiste, Dita Von Teese who has reignited its erotic associations through her strip revue, where the fan both reveals and conceals.

There are still fan makers practising this art at a couture level, while high-street stores including Accessorize continue to sell them commercially. This exhibition will showcase a select number of fans dating from the seventeenth century through to contemporary examples, including two fans from Dior’s Haute Couture Spring Summer 2007 collection. Many are handpicked from the personal collection of Hélène Alexander MBE, alumnus of the Central School and Director of The Fan Museum.

Prestigious companies including Waitrose and Liberty, whose values reflect the re-interpreted tradition of this exhibition, are the in kind sponsors of Fashion in the Palm of your Hand.

Browse Past Displays

Museum Opening Times

Museum closed until further notice


Planned Closures

Find out more here

12 Crooms Hill, Greenwich,
London SE10 8ER


Adults: £5.00

Concessions: Info £3.00

Children (age 7-16): £3.00

National Trust Members:

50% discount on the adult price ticket

Free Entry for...

Children under 7, Art Fund Members and London Pass Members

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Museum Admission Pricing

Adults: £5.00
Children (age 7-16): £3.00
Concessions: £3.00
  • Students (with vaild student card)
  • Senior citizens
  • Registered disabled
  • English Heritage
  • Friends of The Horniman
  • Friends of The Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Staff/Volunteers of the National Maritime Museum
National Trust Members:

50% discount on the Adult price tickets

Free Entry for…

Children under 7, Art Fund Members and London Pass Members

Tuesday 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 Fan Museum will remain closed to the public until November 2021

Museum office is open Monday to Friday 1000-1600.

The Museum office is open Monday to Friday 10.00 – 16.00 hrs. For all enquiries, please email or call 0208 305 1441.