Upcoming ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ Exhibit Will Send Viewers “Through the Looking-Glass”

Concept Art By Mary Blair For Disney

Concept art by Mary Blair for Walt Disney's 1951 adaptation of Alice in Wonderland (c) Disney

A new exhibit entitled Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser will open next March at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Staged by renowned theater designer Tom Piper, the exhibit documents 157 years of widespread fascination with Lewis Carroll‘s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The famous children's tale, published in 1865 (and its sequel, entitled Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, released in 1871) features a cast of characters and an illustriously imaginary world that have inspired many artists for centuries, including those whose work appear in the exhibit—Tim Burton, Salvador Dalí, and designer Vivienne Westwood.

Included in the over 300 objects exhibited in the art show are the original book illustrations by illustrator John Tenniel. A prodigious cartoonist of the Victorian period, Tenniel collaborated with Carroll on his first edition. His original drawings of Alice, the Dodo, and other characters helped define their now-famous appearances. Visitors will also view photographs of the “real” Alice. The child of a dean at Oxford, Alice Liddell was spunky and vivacious. Carroll (whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) entertained young Alice and her two sisters with fantasy stories, one of which became Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Other characters from Wonderland are just as famous as Alice. The Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, and the Cheshire Cat appear through modern lenses. For example, in true 1960s aesthetic, a psychedelic poster designed by Joseph McHugh portrays a red-eyed Cheshire Cat. The exhibit will also include images from modern dramatic renditions of the tale. The costume designs of the 2010 Tim Burton film and Christopher Wheeldon's ballet (performed in 2011 by London's Royal Ballet) demonstrate the enduring relevance of Carroll's characters. Original Walt Disney concept art created for the animated 1951 film will also be on view.

Getting “curiouser and curiouser” to see more? The exhibit Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser will open to the public on Saturday, March 27, 2021 at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Tickets will go on sale soon on the V&A website. The exhibit will continue through December 2021 to allow ample time for all interested visitors to see the collection in safety. While you wait, you can create a Victorian paper peepshow with this V&A tutorial designed by artist Clare Bryan.

An upcoming exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London will trace 157 years of the artistic influence of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Salvador Dali A Mad Tea Party

Salvador Dali, A Mad Tea Party, 1969, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Lynne B. and Roy G. Sheldon, 1999.183.12_2. © Salvador Dali, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, DACS 2019. © Salvador Dali, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, DACS 2019

The exhibit includes original illustrations by John Tenniel, the cartoonist who illustrated the first edition of the novel.

John Tenniel Illustration Mad Hatters Tea Party

Illustration from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by John Tenniel, first published edition, 1866, p.97. National Art Library. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Viewers will also see photos of the “real” Alice, Alice Liddell.

Alice Liddell As Pomona By Julia Margaret Cameron

Pomona, photograph of the ‘real' Alice Liddell, by Julia Margaret Cameron, albumen print, 1872, England. Museum no. RPS.1271-2017. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Carroll's characters inspired generations of artists working in different mediums and during different artistic periods.

Cheshire Cat Poster

“Cheshire Cat,” psychedelic poster, designed by Joseph McHugh, printed by Orbit Graphic Arts, published by East Totem West, 1967, California, US. Museum no. E.3796-2004. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Original Drawing White Rabbit By Ralph Steadman

Original drawing of the White Rabbit for the series Alice in Wonderland, Ralph Steadman, 1967. © Ralph Steadman Art Collection, 2019. All rights reserved. © Ralph Steadman Art Collection, 2019

Dorothea Tanning Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

Dorothea Tanning, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, 1943. © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2019. © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2019

Print By Peter Blake From The Suite Illustrating "Alice in Wonderland"

Print by Peter Blake from a suite illustrating ‘Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There'. 1970. © Peter Blake. All rights reserved, DACS 2019. © Peter Blake. All rights reserved, DACS 2019

Modern works by Tim Burton, Anna Gaskell, Salvador Dalí, and designer Vivienne Westwood will also be on view.

Quinten Massys An Old Woman Or The Ugly Duchess

Quinten Massys. An Old Woman (‘The Ugly Duchess'). © The National Gallery, London. Bequeathed by Miss Jenny Louisa Roberta Blaker, 1947. (Image has been cropped for use here.)

Override #25 By Anna Gaskell

Override#25 (Override), artist Anna Gaskell, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (c) courtesy of Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne

Override #26 By Anna Gaskell

Override#26 (Override), artist Anna Gaskell, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (c) courtesy of Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne

This exhibit will also feature the many dramatic adaptations of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, including both film and stage productions.

Johnny Depp Mad Hatter By Colleen Atwood, Costume For Tim Burton

Mad Hatter costume designed by Colleen Atwood for Tim Burton's 2010 adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, worn by Johnny Depp (c) 2010 Disney

Alice's Adventures In Wonderland 25 February 2011

Zenaida Yanowsky as The Red Queen in Christopher Wheeldon's ballet Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The Royal Ballet. ©ROH, Johan Persson, 2011. Sets and costumes by Bob Crowley. ©ROH, Johan Persson, 2011. Sets and costumes by Bob Crowley.

Carroll's novel remains culturally relevant over a century after it first became popular.

Photo By Ashraf Hendricks

Photograph taken during a protest against Jacob Zuma, Cape Town, 7 April 2017 (c) Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp

The exhibit is set to open in March 2021 and tickets will be available soon.


Viktor&Rolf Haute Couture AutumnWinter 2016 – Vagabonds. Photo credit Team Peter Stigter.

Victoria and Albert Museum: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Victoria and Albert Museum.

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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