Tommy Cooper’s fez goes on display at V&A

An iconic fez belonging to comedian Tommy Cooper is now on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The fez joins the V&A’s National Collection of Performing Arts, which also includes the recently acquired Tommy Cooper Collection – tracing the life and legacy of the comedian who died in 1984.

Cooper’s fez, along with posters, hand-written jokes and a section of his ‘Gag File’, have gone on public display for the first time in the museum’s Theatre and Performance galleries.

It is said he mislaid his helmet when performing in Cairo during the Second World War, so he took a fez from a nearby waiter to wear for his show, and it became his trademark.

The fez has been donated to the V&A by former advertising executive, Hans van Rijs, who was given it by Cooper when they discussed plans for a Dutch TV commercial starring the comedian.

The advertisement was never made, as Cooper died suddenly a few days after the meeting.

The V&A has also made a series of new acquisitions through its Rapid Response Collecting programme.

The acquisitions are contemporary objects that have hit headlines around the world this year, and include a burkini (full-body swimming costume); a flag designed for the first refugee team to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games; a Vote Leave campaign leaflet; and Bradley Wiggins’ handlebars that helped him break the hour record.

Meanwhile, the V&A has announced the acquisition of the earliest and most detailed depiction of Henry VIII’s famed lost palace of Nonsuch.

This watercolour by the celebrated Flemish painter Joris Hoefnagel was made in 1568 has been purchased with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) and the Art Fund.

It goes on display in the V&A’s British Galleries from December 10.

• Last month, the museum opened its new Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries displaying more than 500 highlights from one of the most important collections of decorative art ever given to the nation.

Items on display include a 17th century Peruvian gold cup recovered from a shipwreck off the coast of Florida; a rare Tudor pomander worn to ward off diseases; a life-size silver swan; an enamel miniature of the first US president George Washington and a series of snuffboxes owned by Frederick the Great.

Picture shows Tommy Cooper Installation, V&A Theatre and Performance Galleries © Victoria and Albert Museum.

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