It’s unsurprising, then, that the Alice Imagined exhibition at the Museum of Oxford has managed to pull together contributions from so many sources: paintings from artists’ studios, pottery and collages from schoolchildren’s Art classes, costumes from theatre dressing rooms and all manner of historic memorabilia on loan from the Lewis Carroll Society.
There’s plenty to see for grown-ups – notably the 1935 Guinness advertising pamphlet rewriting Carroll’s poems to feature the drink – but the exhibition is clearly aimed at engaging the youngest in the family. It’s linked to the Lewis Carroll display in the main museum exploring the lives of Carroll and Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for the character of Alice, but the exhibition has storybooks, colourful cushions, and things for the kids to pick up and play with. Crucially, there’s lots of seating for tired little legs and several (laminated and toddler-friendly!) Exhibition Guides to explain the items on show. My favourites were the pink flamingo umbrellas, used by the Mad Dogs Theatre Company in their production of Alice in Wonderland (costumes and props from which are also on display).
The ‘Tea Party table’ was exciting, with colourful clay cakes made by Year 8 pupils at Wycombe School. Local contributions include artwork from Reception and Year 1 pupils at the SS Phillip and James School, whose collages of Alice and the Mad Hatter are on the opposite wall, and artist Tracy Keeping, whose pictures are on sale. If the paintings prove beyond one’s price range, postcards and gift cards displaying the art are available at pocket-money prices in the Gift Shop. In fact, there’s much to take home, with craft packs available for £1.50 each and a table where the kids can make their own Mad Hatter hats, Red Queen’s crowns, or White Rabbit’s ears. Well worth a visit over the school holidays.
The Alice Imagined exhibition at the Museum of Oxford runs until 1st September, 2010. The Museum is open 10.00am – 5.00pm, Tuesday – Saturday (last entry 4.30pm).