About Time: You Visited The Victoria & Albert MuseumBy Angelica Malin
The Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) is taking a trip down the rabbit hole to bring visitors the highly anticipated Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser exhibition to pay tribute to one of the most culturally impactful stories of modern history.
Set to be unveiled in March 2021, the massive Alice in Wonderland-inspired exhibit outline the extraordinary effect the story of a naive young girl stumbling her way into a fantasy world has had on popular culture across the globe.
The original story was in the form of a novel titled Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland penned by English author Lewis Carroll in 1865. In the 155 years since it has gone on to influence just about every industry you can think of; from film and television to fashion and gaming, and everything in between.
Of course, it is impossible to mention the impact Alice in Wonderland has had on popular culture without bringing up the 2010 Tim Burton film starring the likes of Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway and Steven Fry that brought in over $1-billion at the box office. However, there are plenty of other examples too, beginning all the way back in 1903 with a British silent film directed by Cecil Hepworth and Percy Stow. In total, the story has been adapted for film and television over 30 times.
In gaming, the examples can be a bit more subtle, but there are of course the titles directly related to the original story, such as Alice: Madness Returns. The story has even impacted the iGaming industry, where there are multiple slot games inspired by the renowned novel that players can try using unique bonuses at new casinos, such as the Alice Adventure game found at Rizk Casino and others. These are just a couple of examples of direct influence. Additionally, there are many, many other titles where narrative devices, especially the idea of a fantasy wonderland, are borrowed from the story by writers in the gaming industry.
The cultural impact of this unique book spreads beyond just the entertainment industries, though. The fantastical world created by Carroll has long held a strong allure for fashionistas. There are countless examples, but one of the more stunning ones was the shoot Annie Leibovitz did for Vogue in 2003 with model Natalia Vodianova as Alice that included fashion from the likes of Donatella Versace, Karl Lagerfeld, Tom Ford and many others.
The Alice in Wonderland story has also enjoyed a rich and fulfilled history of live performances on stage, beginning with H. Saville Clark and Walter Slaughter’s 1886 West End musical, which Carroll attended and said he enjoyed. The story has seen plenty of on-stage revivals since then, especially during the West End’s Christmas season.
All of this history, tradition and cultural impact is being poured into the display, including original sketches by Caroll and the Mad Tea Party artwork by Salvador Dali, which is set to be unveiled at the V&A to dazzle and delight visitors and fans of the timeless Alice in Wonderland story.
“Alice encourages us all to question, to learn, to explore, and to dream. Discovering why she’s an endless source of inspiration for some of the world’s most creative minds has been an extraordinary adventure,” said senior curator of theatre and performance at the V&A, Kate Bailey, according to Vogue.
The exhibit was supposed to open in 2020. Unfortunately, due to circumstances outside the control of the V&A, it had to be delayed until March next year. It certainly hasn’t damped the appetite for the exhibit though and has more likely increased excitement and anticipation.
The ambitious exhibit will go through the entire history of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland from the early origins of the story to the modern interpretations that can be seen all over the world in every industry to this day and will include art, drawings, photographs and film.
There is sure to be no more comprehensive shrine to Carroll’s story anywhere else on the globe. So, if you are a fan, this will be a must-see. More than art, this is a piece of history.