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The Most In-Depth “Alice in Wonderland” Exhibit Ever Will Debut in London This Month

By Sarah Buder

Mar 16, 2021

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The 1865 fairy tale features an underground fantasy world full of anthropomorphic characters and surrealist symbols.

Photo by Nancy Ayumi Kunihiro/Shutterstock

The 1865 fairy tale features an underground fantasy world full of anthropomorphic characters and surrealist symbols.

Opening March 27, 2021, the themed exhibition will explore how the fantastical tale inspired global culture and influential creators, including Walt Disney, Salvador Dalí, and Tim Burton.

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A major exhibit dedicated to Alice in Wonderland was set to open at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London last summer . . . and then along came COVID. Never count Alice out, though: The immersive showcase Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser will finally make its debut on March 27, 2021 (we hope), and will surely take viewers down a rabbit hole of inspiration and nostalgia.

Museum curators will chart the evolution of the beloved fairy tale, tracing its origins as an imaginative 1865 novel by Lewis Carroll to its contemporary status as a fixture of the global zeitgeist. On view through December 31, 2021, it will mark the most extensive Alice in Wonderland exhibit ever staged.

The V&A exhibition will include costumes from the 2011 Royal Ballet production of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” which featured former principal dancer Zenaida Yanowsky as the Red Queen.

Illustrations figure prominently in this collection of Alice in Wonderland–related artifacts; among them are artworks by Sir John Tenniel from the original novel, as well as Ralph Steadman drawings from the 1960s and early concept art from Walt Disney’s 1951 film. (Our guess is that Tim Burton’s 2010 big-screen interpretation will also get a nod.) 

However, Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser won’t just focus on direct adaptations of the tale. Expanding on the award-winning Wonderland exhibit from the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne, the V&A presentation will push further, exploring the classic tale’s delightfully weird influence spanning visual art, fashion, music, dance, and photography.

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Keep an eye out for costumes from the 2011 Royal Ballet production of Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, as well as various artworks by Salvador Dalí, whose surrealist creations were heavily inspired by the overall aesthetic of Wonderland. 

Also surreal: London is still technically under lockdown, with the stay-at-home order set to lift March 29, according to the BBC. Museums aren’t slated to open until May 17.

Timed tickets for the London exhibition are on sale now.

This article was originally published in October 2019. It was updated March 16, 2021, with new information.

>> Next: Yayoi Kusama Will Debut New Artworks at Major U.S. Exhibit—Tickets on Sale Now

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