ates the cooling effect of a fan in hot weather, especially if we are outside, away from the air conditioning.
But the Kent State University Museum has highlighted the variety, types and artistry of these devices in "Fandemonium," which can be seen through Oct. 6.
"There are many interesting pieces," said museum curator Sara Hume.
The exhibit is organized by the type of fan, and visitors may be surprised at how many kinds of fans there are. There are feather fans, Jenny Lind fans, Brisé fans, pleated fans, painted fans, fans with highly decorated sticks, and even a mechanical fan -- an early 1900s version of the battery operated hand-held fans used today (except instead of using batteries, the user would operate the fan blades by pushing repeatedly on a button.)
Fans most likely originated from China or Japan, Hume said, but they exploded in popularity elsewhere in the 18th century. There is an example of a fan made in China, but made for the western market; the Chinese people in the design are all wearing Western-style clothing, Hume said.
Fans were even used by businesses to advertise their companies, Hume said. However, the picture on the fan often had nothing to do with the actual enterprise.
For example, there is one advertising fan depicting a smiling mother with a rosy-cheeked infant.
"That one is for a funeral home," Hume said, indicating the fan. "There isn't a big correlation between the subject matter and the business. They were like small billboards, used to get your name out there."
Creating a light breeze for relief from a torrid day wasn't the only use for the fan, Hume said. One fan on display had a looking glass hidden in its folds. Another had a cameo on one side and a small mirror -- good for checking makeup, for example -- on the other.
"It's an accessory that moves a lot," Hume said. "There's a lot of literature in its use in courtship and flirting. There is so much inherent with the fan."
While there are a variety of fan types, the overall styles have not changed all that much from the 18th century, Hume said. Fan materials have gone from fancy cloth, intricate designs on ivory or tortoise shell sticks and heavy embellishment to simpler designs in paper and plastic, but the overall designs have remained the same.
The Kent State University Museum is at 515 Hilltop Drive (corner of East Main and South Lincoln streets) in Kent. The museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; from 10 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. on Thursday; and noon to 4:45 p.m. on Sunday.
General admission is $5. Tickets for senior citizens (55+ years old) are $4. Tickets for students and children (7 to 18 years old) are $3. Children younger than 7 are free. Admission to the museum is free on Sunday.
For more information about the Kent State University Museum, visit www.kent.edu/museum.