SPRINGFIELD, NJ — “Fan-tastic: A Collection of Hand Fans From Around the World,” is the title of a new exhibit currently on display in the Donald B. Palmer Museum of the Springfield Free Public Library. Curated by Alexsandra Gizzi, an alumna of the graduate program in the museum professions of Seton Hall University, this exhibit features 26 items that were culled from the Palmer Museum’s collection of more than 70 intricately designed hand and folding fans and chosen either for their beauty or for their novelty.
One of the fans chosen for its beauty is the collection’s largest, a fan from Japan with a colorful rendering of Mount Fuji. Other fans in this category include those constructed of painted silk, intricately carved bone, feathers, or metallic inlay.
Fans chosen for their novelty include one that was used as an advertisement for the New York Zoological Park, later to become known as the Bronx Zoo, featuring a complete map and legend of the park, and a calibrated wooden handle that could be moved around the face of the fan to provide navigational assistance in getting around the park. Other unusual fans include a collection of three black mourning fans, for use by female mourners, and a linen and wood fan with a depiction of the Mangkunegaran Palace in Surakarta, Indonesia.
This exhibit will be on display in the Palmer Museum now through Friday, Dec. 31. Admission is free. The museum is located inside the Springfield Free Public Library at 66 Mountain Ave. and is is currently open in accordance with library summer hours: Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to 7:45 p.m.; Tuesdays and Fridays, from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; and Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 12.45 p.m.
In conjunction with this exhibit, the library will also offer a free virtual program, “The Language of Fans,” to be presented by Gizzi via Zoom on Monday, Sept. 27, from 7 to 8 p.m. Gizzi will demonstrate how folding fans were used in bygone times to facilitate wordless communication, often for flirtatious intent. Attendees are encouraged to have with them their own fans, so that they can practice making these gestures during the course of the program. To attend the program, visit here. For dial-in access to this program, call 646-876-9923; the meeting ID is 852-2485-9437, and the passcode is 471 703.
This exhibit and the associated program are made possible in part by a 2021 History, Education, Arts Reaching Thousands Grant from the Union County Board of County Commissioners.