Alice in wonderland at Kingston Museum

LOOKING IN WONDERLAND A Special Summer Exhibition at Kingston Museum

Friday 22nd July – Sunday 17 September 2016.

Some of the most famous illustrations in the world will be brought to Kingston this Summer. A selection of the best of Sir John Tenniel’s illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s two Alice books – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland(1865) and Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there (1872) – will be on show at Kingston Museum from Saturday 23 July – Sunday 17 September 2016.

Alice and Pig

Alice and Pig. Alice in Wonderland, John Tenniel

John Tenniel spent all of his life in London where he worked as a political cartoonist for Punch magazine, but in 1864 he was approached by Lewis Carroll (an Oxford mathematics don whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) with the request to illustrate a small nonsense book for children he wished to publish.

The initial story had been made up by Dodgson for the daughters of the Dean of Christ Church College during a boating trip on 4 July 1862, and at the request of one of them, Alice Liddell, he wrote out the story of the little girl who dreamt (or did she ?) that she went down a rabbit hole into Wonderland where she met an amazing set of characters – the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the King and Queen of Hearts, the Mock Turtle, the Cheshire Cat – and found herself in some awfully weird situations. The story – published as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – was an instant hit with children and adults alike – as was the sequel Through the Looking-Glass and what Alice found there published seven years later. From the very start it was agreed that a major part of their success was due to the unique and imaginative illustrations supplied to the text by John Tenniel and despite there now being many hundreds of artists world-wide who have illustrated Alice, Tenniel’s illustrations remain the definitive ones.

The exhibition on show at Kingston Museum is a selection of the best illustrations from both books (about half of the complete number) in which the creative genius of both Carroll and Tenniel is shown at its best. The original drawings were made on wooden blocks and then engraved by commercial engravers in London and the prints on show – taken from the original wood blocks – are perfect examples of the skill of both illustrator and engraver.

Two art projects inspired by the Alice illustrations will give an additional dimension to the exhibition: Couture hats made by fashion students at Kingston College, and tea cups made by members of Embroiderers Guild Kingston. These projects will be on show for the duration of the exhibition period and in the Museum and the exhibition.

The exhibition, LOOKING IN WONDERLAND, will be on show at Kingston Museum from Friday 22nd July – Sunday 17 September 2016.

Wheatfield Way, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 2PS

Programme of associated events

21, 28 July and 4, 11, 18, 25 August 2016

Thumbs up it’s Thursday! Alice in Wonderland special
Get lost in our Museum Wonderland in the Art Gallery and take part in a range of activities.
Digital workshops on 4 and 11 August.
Drop in, limited availability. Ages 3-11.

16, 19 August 2016

Nonsense in verse
Poems with nonsense words for children, by authors such as Lewis Carroll.
Free, drop in. Ages 7+

13, 20, 27 August 2016

Art Course: Longing for the Wonderland
Explore Alice in wonderland’s landscape through experimenting with a range of art techniques.
Fee applies, call the Museum to book and for more information. 020 8547 5006


Please also see Kingston Library for a programme of associated Alice events including Museum handling collection sessions: