In 2012 The Athenaeum of Philadelphia received a generous gift of 28 historical hand fans, which formed the basis of the Athenaeum's exhibition The Art of the Fan: Beyond the Victorian Lady, which ran through March 15, 2013. Both beautiful and functional, these charming wardrobe accessories were widely used by elegant ladies until the mid 20th century, when changing fashions and the advent of air conditioning rendered hand fans nearly obsolete.
Visitors responded enthusiastically to the exhibition, and since then, the Athenaeum has continued to receive additional fan donations. This online virtual exhibition describes the original 28 fans in greater detail, and presents additional fans that have since entered our growing fan collection.
This online exhibition is made possible through a generous grant from the Fan Association of North America (FANA).