Hand Fan Museum of Healdsburg
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Hand Fan Museum of Healdsburg
Though I never had much – make that ANY – interest in hand fans, I was intrigued by this collection amassed by a coterie of committed hand fan enthusiasts. Despite the efforts of high-fashion fan fans like Karl Lagerfeld, the hand fan has never regained the popularity it once had. If nothing else, this well-curated collection demonstrates how far the human imagination can push the limits of an admittedly constrained art form (the shape and size of the fan are relatively set, and it has to be functional, foldable and portable: it’s not simply sculptural – it has to work!). Here’s a Venetian fan with eye holes cut into it so it can be deployed during the notorious masquerade balls of that city; there, a signed and numbered fan created by surrealist Jean Cocteau. We even found a fan that was given away, probably free, at a classic and now-gone restaurant in Chicago’s Chinatown, exhibited under glass as another reminder of a personal artefact whose time has largely passed. What I find most fascinating about this place is that it represents private enthusiasms made public, and I had to admit, this place made me think a lot more about fans than I ever thought I would. Though I’m disinclined to carry one, I’ll never look at a fan the same way. I asked about Karl Lagerfeld, and a curator hissed to me “We hate him. He takes apart old fans and refits them with his own material.” To a fan enthusiast, such vain erasure of cultural history is, understandably, blasphemous.
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