Don’t Be Late! The Morgan Celebrates 150 Years of Alice

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This year marks 150 big ones for the children’s classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and The Morgan Library is celebrating with a beautiful exhibit worthy of the hoopla. See Lewis Carroll’s pocket watch and microscope, take a selfie with an Alice illustration, and then marvel at the original manuscript he presented to his muse Alice Liddell, the same manuscript that hasn’t left the shores of England for 30 years — and isn’t likely to do so again any time soon. If you’ve got an Alice addict, this is the show for you!

Group of all six slides, From Lantern slides of scenes from Alice's adventures in Wonderland [London : W. Butcher & Sons, 1900-1915?], PML 352354.1-7

Big story, Small Space

This exhibit, while incredible in its scope, is diminutive: a single room painted canary yellow serves as the setting for celebrating how one story told in a boat one summer afternoon to a trio of rapt daughters ignited the collective imagination of children for a century and a half. There are a few seats sprinkled around the room alongside baskets of various versions of the tale; perfect for passing some time with the wee ones.

But for sure, you’re likely to be just as engaged as the kids, as the exhibit does give ample and appropriate attention to the creative tensions that beset the collaboration between author Charles Lutwidge Dodson, a.k.a. Lewis Carrolll, and his fine illustrator, Sir  John Tenniel. (It’s the latter’s images of Alice and friends that became iconic.)

Tenniel, John, 1820-1914. Mad Tea Party [print]. 19th century, 1 print, 2005.198

Especially for Kids

More interesting to kids will be Carroll’s original pocket watch — just like the one his beloved rabbit used — or a beautiful golden microscope that stirred his imagination. Kids can also enjoy comparing the original hand-written manuscript, the very one Dodgson presented to the Alice, with the printed version, which is perched directly adjacent. The original Alice’s purse, with her name in needlepoint, is also in the show.

To make the most of your visit, stop by on Sunday afternoons, when a weekly Alice storytime appropriate for kids ages three to six will take place from 3-4 p.m.

If you or the kids want to do a deep dive before or after visiting the exhibit, check out the online version, which includes illustrations, photos and even a playlist of music inspired by the beloved (and trippy) tale. “White Rabbit” anyone?

Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland
The Morgan Library & Museum
Through October 11, 2015
Tickets: $18/adults; free/children 12 and under; $12/children 13-16; Free/Fridays, 7-9 p.m.
225 Madison Ave. at 36th St.

Will you heading to The Morgan to see the original “Alice”? Tell us in the comments below!

—Rachel Aydt