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Alice in Wonderland to star in new V&A exhibition

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser will open in June 2020, celebrating one of the most iconic stories of all time.

The V&A’s landmark exhibition in 2020 – Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser – will celebrate one of the most iconic, imaginative and inspiring stories of all time.

The exhibition – which opens on June 27, 2020 and runs until January 10, 2021 – will explore Alice in Wonderland’s origins, adaptations and reinventions over 158 years, charting its evolution from manuscript to a global phenomenon.

Through over 300 objects spanning film, performance, fashion, art, music and photography, the V&A will be the first museum to fully explore the cultural impact of Alice and her ongoing inspiration for leading creatives – from Salvador Dalí and The Beatles to Little Simz and Thom Browne.

Highlights will include Lewis Carroll’s original handwritten manuscript, illustrations by John Tenniel, Ralph Steadman and Disney, stage costumes, fashion from Iris van Herpen and photography from Tim Walker and Annie Leibovitz.

Designed by designer Tom Piper – best known for his stage designs for the Royal Shakespeare Company and his Tower of London poppies installation – the exhibition will reward ‘curiouser and curiouser’ visitors with secret doors and interactive displays.

It 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 first section – Creating Alice – will trace the origins in Victorian Oxford, uncovering the people, politics and places that inspired Lewis Carroll, while 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.

Reimagining Alice will celebrate the reinventions of Wonderland through works by Salvador Dalí, Yayoi Kusama, Max Ernst and Peter Blake, as well as the music of The Beatles. A mind-bending visual experience will take place at a Mad Hatter’s tea party, brought to life through psychedelic and playful digital projections. It will be followed by an invitation to a game of Flamingo croquet.

Staging Alice will explore how the books have found a home within dance, music and performance, while the final section – Being Alice – will explore the modern day fascination and reinvention of Alice in Wonderland across art, science and popular culture.

The exhibition will close with a newly commissioned ‘through the looking glass-inspired’ digital art installation. Descending down into the rabbit hole on arrival and leaving through the looking glass, the exhibition hopes to inspire visitors to conjure ideas of their own Wonderland.

“With our world-class collections of art, design and performance and founding mission to inspire the next generation, the V&A is the perfect place for an exhibition on the cultural impact of Alice in Wonderland across artistic disciplines,” said Kate Bailey, senior curator of theatre and performance at the V&A.

The exhibition is the second V&A exhibition for adults and children, following on from Winnie the Pooh: Exploring a Classic (2017/2018).

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