V&A's Alice In Wonderland Exhibition Will Take You Down A Rabbit Hole Into A Magical World

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V&A's Alice In Wonderland Exhibition Will Take You Down A Rabbit Hole Into A Magical World

New details about the V&A's upcoming Alice in Wonderland exhibition have been revealed.

Print by Peter Blake from a suite illustrating 'Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There'. 1970. © Peter Blake. All rights reserved.

We were grinning like Cheshire cats to learn that the South Kensington museum will mount an Alice exhibition. It's a great choice. Few books have had such a profound and long-lasting impact on the popular imagination.

Now, new details of the show, set for summer 2020, have emerged. We're promised a very theatrical, interactive exhibition filled with digital projections. It's masterminded by leading theatre designer Tom Piper. Besides his work for the RSC and Royal Opera House, he's perhaps best known for conceiving the idea for the Tower of London poppies, which commemorated the centenary of the outbreak of the first world war.

Through the rabbit hole

Quinten Massys. An Old Woman ('The Ugly Duchess'). © The National Gallery, London. Bequeathed by Miss Jenny Louisa Roberta Blaker.

In homage to Alice, visitors will "begin with a descent into the V&A’s subterranean Sainsbury Gallery via a theatrical interpretation of the story’s famous rabbit hole". The exhibition will end with a step through a digital looking glass.

In-between, the show will be divided into five sections:

1. Creating Alice: a look at the genesis of the story, "uncovering the people, the politics and the places that inspired Lewis Carroll".

2. Filming Alice: will "chart the creative development of Alice on screen throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, starting with the earliest film based on the books in 1903".

3. Reimagining Alice: will "celebrate reinventions of Wonderland through works by Salvador Dalí, Yayoi Kusama, Max Ernst and Peter Blake as well as the music of The Beatles".

4. Staging Alice: will "explore how the books have naturally found a home within dance, music and performance".

5. Being Alice: will "explore the modern-day fascination and reinvention of Alice in Wonderland across art, science and popular culture".

Salvador Dali, A Mad Tea Party, 1969, © Salvador Dali, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, DACS 2019. Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Lynne B. and Roy G. Sheldon, 1999.

Over 300 items

The exhibition will not only be theatrical and immersive, but will also contain some 300 objects relating to the book and its origins. These include:

  • Lewis Carroll’s original handwritten manuscript.
  • Illustrations by John Tenniel, Ralph Steadman and Disney.
  • Stage costumes and fashion from Iris van Herpen.
  • Photography from Tim Walker and Annie Leibovitz.

The show runs for seven months, so there's no rabbity excuse for being late.

'Cheshire cat', psychedelic poster by Joseph McHugh, published by East Totem West. USA, 1967 (c) Victoria and Albert Museum.

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser will run 27 June 2020-10 January 2021 at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Tickets to go on sale in Spring 2020 at £20 for adults. Children under 12 will go free. A range of other concessions will apply.

Last Updated 29 November 2019