There are not many fictional stories which is as well-loved and timeless than that of Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland (Alice in Wonderland for short), an 1865 novel writen by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll.
It tells of a young girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre.
Alice in Wonderland is 154 years old and there are still recent new movie or television adaptations and other modern-day retellings of the story! I read the story when I was a young boy and watched the 2010 Alice in Wonderland movie adaption by cult director Tim Burton. My son, Asher, is eight this year and he is also familiar with the Alice in Wonderland story from various books he read. This is a story that transcends all ages and easily relatable to everyone.
Hence when we knew there is a Wonderland exhibition opening at the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands, we were determined to go check it out in the opening weekend. Many others probably shared our excitement and we were met with a packed crowd. We arrived at around 2.30pm on a Sunday and there was a snaking queue.
The exhibition Wonderland is a playful and interactive exhibition developed for all ages by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) and this groundbreaking exhibition is making the first stop of its global tour at ArtScience Museum.
It took us about 15 minutes to get to the front of the queue and into the exhibition. The wait was alright as the museum staff gave exhibition maps to all visitors to keep us entertained. There a few variation of the interactive maps which made it all the more engaging. I got the one written in Lewis Caroll’s perspective while Asher got the one written in the Mad Hatter’s perspective.
Once in, we found ourselves immersed in the fantasy world of Wonderland and get to learn about the art and science behind the various retelling of the Alice in Wonderland story over the years.
The exhibition follows Alice’s journey through popular culture and uses theatrical sets, bold, interactive environments, props and audiovisual works to bring Wonderland to live for the visitors.
The exhibition reveals how artists and filmmakers have portrayed Alice and her story for over a century. Since her first appearance on the page in 1865, Alice has delighted audiences in more than 40 films and over 30 television programmes, and has become a subcultural icon through her presence in music videos, video games, high fashion, advertising and more.
Drawing together a selection of original behind-the-scenes material, the exhibition includes over 300 artefacts and objects, including first edition books, drawings, original costumes, films, magic lantern projectors, animation, puppetry, and original work by theatrical designer Anna Tregloan, and digital creative studios, Sandpit, Grumpy Sailor and Mosster Studio.
For the Instagram generation, there are lots of photo opportunities at the exhibition for you to pretend like you are in Wonderland. Here are some samples:
For Asher and I, we particularly like the magic lantern projections, the puppets and other motion visual forms before the advent of the modern day cinemas. Asher have not seen these before and it was also an educational art and science journey for him.
“Visitors will truly step into Alice’s imaginary landscape, meeting the fantastical talking creatures made famous in the much-loved stories, and exploring her world in creative and immersive rooms, that reward curiosity. There are secret doorways to find, mysterious drawers to rummage through, winding corridors to navigate, unusual props to climb inside, and incredible digital experiences which allow visitors to see the story of Alice come to life. In Wonderland, reality is suspended. The more curious you are, the more you’ll discover,” shared Honor Harger, Executive Director of ArtScience Museum.
Wonderland takes its inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s three stories, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the accompanying sequels, Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There. These stories have been adapted dozens of times for the screen over a century, which makes the history of Alice in Wonderland on screen, a way of being able to trace the history of moving image.
The exhibition charts the cultural, technological and social shifts that have compelled filmmakers to create their own visual interpretation of Alice and her adventures.
From the first screen adaptation by Cecil M Hepworth in 1903 to the contemporary blockbusters of the 2000s, Wonderland also showcases the developments in special effects from pre-cinematic entertainment to silent film, animation to puppetry, live-action cinema, CGI, 3D and beyond. Films such as Lou Bunin’s Alice Au Pays des Merveilles (1949), Jan Svankmajer’s acclaimed Alice (1988), the Quay Brothers’ experimental Alice in Not So Wonderland (2007), and television versions by broadcasters BBC and NBC will be featured in the exhibition.
In a way, visiting the Wonderland exhibition is a interesting narrative for the advance of storytelling from the days of the printed books to the current day and age of the Internet and social media.
The Wonderland Experience
The exhibition starts out in Lewis Carroll’s drawing room, where visitors will be handed their own Lost Map of Wonderland. The map serves as a physical interactive tool which allows visitors to explore the exhibition in unique and surprising ways.
The exhibition continues through the Hallway of Doors, followed by the contemplative surrounds of the Pool of Tears, the quirky Looking Glass House,beforevisitors are invited to get hands-on in the Queen’s Croquet Ground.
Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at Wonderland
The visitor flow for the exhibition is well thought through. Knowing that the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party will draw a large crowd, the museum curators have designed the experience such that there is a holding area where visitors get to work on some art and craft projects or play with an interactive digital screen while waiting for their turn into the Tea Party room.
This made the wait bearable. Even where we were queuing to get in, the walls were lined with displays and artworks which you can read and view, keeping you engaged with the Wonderland experience.
Good job by the folks from ACMI and the ArtScience Museum team! We would definitely recommend a visit for everyone who loves the tales of Alice in Wonderland or just fictional tales or fantasies in general.
Wonderland will run from 13 April to 22 September 2019.
Tickets are available for purchase all Marina Bay Sands box offices and the official website.
Ticket prices as follows:
|Senior (65 years and above)/ Student/
Child (2-12 years)
(2 kids & 2 adults)