I was in downtown Healdsburg, CA and spotted in a shop window a beautiful butterfly shaped hand fan. I wandered inside a small fantastical space that was filled with art. I had no idea that The Hand Fan Museum was there! In fact, it’s the first museum in the United States dedicated solely to hand fans and displays a permanent collection in addition to having a rotating exhibit.
The builder/owner of Hotel Healdsburg, Pamela Sher, has been a fan collector for over 30 years and is a member of Fan Association of North America. Open since 2002 and now a part of the h2hotel, this museum is a physical example of Sher’s desire to educate the public about the cultural significance of the hand fan as fans are snippets of our world culture and artistic representations of time.
The director, Liz Keeley was lovely to talk with about the beauty of what I was seeing as well as helping me understand the differences between periods and designs. Even though the space is small, about 1000 sq ft, the impact of these functional pieces of art is not lost on the visitor. Though the inexpensive but colorful folding fans brought me in, the displays of history took my breath away. Many are for show, some are for sale, the gift table is where I spent my money. With lots of options for the casual buyer, I bought a $1 fan for my little one and a more expensive Japanese inspired fan for myself. See my Flickr set of photos.
If you have the chance, drop by this free museum (non profit 501c3), learn a little and support their art programs for students. Or simply cool yourself off.