There’s no place better than the Victoria and Albert Museum to celebrate the pure imagination and creative brilliance of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass.
The museum is home to more than 2.3 million objects that capture over 5,000 years of human creativity – some of which represent Lewis Carroll’s universally adored tales of wonder – and celebrate the enduring creative legacy the stories have forged.
A History of Creativity
The history of the V&A is as unique and original as the museum itself and since its early beginnings as a Museum of Manufactures in 1852, it has evolved to become the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance. Its prevalence as an educational hub spans creative media such as architecture, furniture, fashion, textiles, photography, sculpture, painting, jewellery, glass, ceramics, book arts, Asian art and design, theatre and performance.
The literary legacy and universal appeal of the Alice books resonate deeply with the V&A’s collections and mirror the museum’s own history and founding principles. In the words of its first director Sir Henry Cole, visitors to the V&A should ‘marvel, learn and imagine’.
‘Imagination is the greatest weapon in the war against reality’
‘Curiouser and Curiouser’ with the V&A
In the year that marks the 150th anniversary of Through the Looking-Glass, the V&A explores the enduring creative influence of the story and its beloved forerunner, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
As educational as it is mesmerising, the V&A’s Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser exhibition is a multilayered celebration of imagination and ingenuity. Reflective of the museum’s core values, it delves into its collections of fashion, theatre, design, architecture and digital mediums that channel and reinterpret Alice’s world.
Visitors will enjoy a fascinating insight into the lives of Charles Dodgson – who is better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll – and his social circle, including the Liddell family, the photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, the actress Ellen Terry, and the renowned poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
A Weird Walk Through Wonderland
The theatrical exhibition takes visitors on an adventure through not one but five Wonderlands, each having a distinct look, feel and experience. They show how Lewis Carroll’s books are a lens to creativity across different genres, and present how and why Alice continues to permeate global culture and capture our imaginations. It also takes a deeper look into the powerful themes of the original text – from politics and psychology to language and identity – and why the stories are so relevant and appealing to both adults and children.
Each section interweaves the narrative and the characters with a celebration of different art forms – literature, performance, film, visual arts fashion and photography. From the Hatter’s Tea Party to the Queen of Hearts’ Croquet Garden, these immersive experiences offer an enthralling journey into Alice’s weirdly wonderful world.
‘Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’
Designing Alice’s World
Wonderland is both a concept and a metaphor that can be reimagined and interpreted in many ways. For this exhibition, the V&A took design inspiration from the Oxford locations where the real Alice grew up and where Lewis Carroll lived and worked as a scholar and tutor.
The experience is tailored so that each visit is unique to the individual, where they essentially become Alice throughout the exhibition, participating in varying levels of engagement. Visitors are transported from real to imaginary worlds and will get a sense of the endless possibilities unlocked by curiosity.
‘Contrariwise,’ continued Tweedledee, ‘if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.’
Inspiring Creativity and Curiosity
The exploration of Alice’s fictional world may seem like a fantastical journey of nonsense and silliness, but it is ultimately a poignant tribute to the power of the imagination. The V&A’s Curiouser and Curiouser exhibition draws on this fundamental message by encouraging visitors to imagine the impossible, celebrate science and art, and perceive the world through a curious lens.
The Alice COLLECTION