Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser Exhibition – V&A Museum

‘Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser’ was due to open at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum in June 2020 but we all know what happened then. Fortunately the long-awaited exhibition is now open and it was well worth the wait. This is an excellent exhibition with something for everyone: from children to adults; from die-hard Alice fans to those with just a passing interest. We visited at the weekend and absolutely loved it this colourful, vibrant, informative and immersive exhibition.

The exhibition as designed by award-winning Tom Piper, one of the artists behind the Tower of London’s poppies installation. It charts the history of the story Alice in Wonderland since it was first published in 1865. There are original sketches, original concept art for the animated film by Disney, fashion designs from Vivienne Westwood and so much more.

If you’re thinking about booking tickets to see ‘Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser’ with kids, here’s what to expect.

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser Exhibitio
The costume worn by Zenaida Yanowsky as The Red Queen

Booking tickets for ‘Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser’

Tickets must be booked in advance for the exhibition. Many dates are sold (including for May half term) so this is one to plan ahead for. Tickets are £20 (£22 with donation) for adults, £15 for students (aged 12-17) and free for children under 11-years-old. The exhibition is free to V&A members.

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser Exhibition
An original illustration from Alice Through the Looking Glass

The Alice in Wonderland Exhibition

The Alice exhibition explores the origins, adaptations and reinventions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as well as its cultural impact and its ongoing inspiration for creatives. The exhibition is spread across five Alice-inspired worlds.

Room 1, Creating Alice, introduces visitors to the story behind the story. Many visitors might know that author Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) wrote the story for 10-year-old Alice Liddell, the daughter of friends. But in exhibition you learn much more about Carroll himself – his fascination with playing on multiple meanings of words and puns for example. On display is one of his report card’s from school where Carroll’s English teacher comments on his use of language.

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser Exhibition
Exploring Alice on the small and big screen at the Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser Exhibition

This room was one of my favourites owing to the sheer number of original objects on display (some 300 objects have been curated in total for the exhibition). Here you’ll also spot the original manuscript for Alice, carefully handwritten and illustrated. There are also photographs, illustrations by John Tenniel, wood engravings and more. It really is an incredible collection of history in one room.

That said, this room is very text heavy for young kids so you might find, like me, that you don’t get to spend as long here as you would like. There’s a simple ‘white rabbit paper trail’ for kids to follow, which will keep them occupied for a time while you read and various exhibit descriptions.

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser Exhibition
The exhibition features some incredible costumes

The next section if Filming Alice, and explores Alice on the big – and small – screen around the world. This section includes Walt Disney’s iconic 1951 film adaptation of the story and the works of the artist and animator Mary Blair. Incredibly, a full cast of actors were needed for the Disney illustrators to sketch.

Staging Alice examines dance, music and performance. Being Alice explores how Carroll’s story continues to inspire today. There are some wonderful stage costumes on display from the Royal Opera House as well as the costume worn by Zenaida Yanowsky as The Red Queen in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by the Royal Ballet.

The final section, Reimagining Alice is the most immersive part of the exhibition and includes a room where visitors can put on a VR headset and play “a curious game of croquet” using flamingoes and hedgehogs (you have to be over 12 years-old for this). There are also paintings and photographs from artists including Salvador Dalí and Yayoi Kusama who have all been influence by Alice. Also in this section is a life-sized Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

We spent about 90 minutes exploring the Alice exhibition and could have spent longer. It’s a wonderfully colourful and immersive journey down the rabbit hole and simply fascinating to understand the huge impact that the story has had on society as a whole.

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser Exhibition
The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

What you need to know about Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser

  • Tickets must booked in advance.
  • The exhibition is very popular so this is a show to bookmark for a future date.
  • It’s definitely child-friendly although you might not get as long as you would like in the first section owing to the sheer volume of objects and information.
  • Covid-19 protocols are in place throughout (the VR sets are all cleaned between uses for examples) and visitors are required to wear masks.

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