Down the Rabbit Hole

The Singapore ArtScience Museum has recently launched a new exhibition involving a rabbit, a mad hatter, and a girl named Alice. Wonderland is an interactive exhibition running from 13 April through to 22 September 2019. And it has been a while since an interactive exhibition has gotten us interested and excited. Thankfully, Wonderland does not disappoint. Well, maybe it’s a bit too short, but that’s it.

Our journey began with a very long queue. Ys, this is what happens when you go to an anticipated exhibition near the dates that it has just started. On the other hand, you would probably see most of the exhibition in prime condition before wear and tear has a chance to wear it all down. But, I digress. We were given the Lost Map of Wonderland while we were on the queue and these maps were registered on the system before you follow Alice. Each map follows a character from Wonderland, the Queen, the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, and the Cheshire Cat and they each have their own unique artwork to find.

Right off the bat, you are given a choice to use the normal door, or a shrunken door just like in the book/film. Of course, we took the small door. It’s perfect for small kids but a bit of a squeeze for bigger kids (like, adults). And from there, your adventure begins as you follow Alice through her adventures in Wonderland. Actually, you would be following several adventures seeing as there have been over 40 films, over 30 television programs, pop-culture references in books, music, video games, and even fashion. So, if you venture forth, follow your map and learn more about the world of Alice and the various interpretations of her adventures.

The Hallway of Doors is where we began our journey. Quite a few doors were around and each one holding bits and pieces of the tale of Alice. Behind the doors are concept art, manuscripts, drawings, and more inspiring works that have led to the pop-culture icon which is Alice. There is one particularly interesting corner here which is the glass table with the key that Alice works so hard to reach since she had been shrunken down after drinking the potion in the bottle that was labeled, “Drink Me”. Soon after though, we find ourselves in The Pool of Tears. Of course, in the book, this pool was actually created by Alice when she cried so much during the time that she had grown nine feet tall. This room houses early image projectors that were called magic lanterns. Think of it as early animation techniques. And through those technologies, Alice made her appearances in film with better special effects as the years moved forward. The Looking Glass House takes us deeper into the special effects that were used on the olden day films of Alice and eventually, the sequel to Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass. As the name implies, most of the effects are done with trickery using mirrors. A very old, but very ingenious way of basically superimposing images on top of each other to create an effect.

Over at The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill, Alice’s adventure takes a detour from the normal stories that we may have heard. This is in part due to the interpretation of the story by a Czech filmmaker named Jan Svankmajer. In these bits of Wonderland, the world becomes surreal and everything becomes eerily interesting that you would do a double-take on the things that you see. You would then seek Advice from A Caterpillar. The Caterpillar is one more character that makes up the Wonderland crew and is represented in all sorts of ways by different characters and interpretations. But it is the question that is significant here, “Who are you?” asked the caterpillar to Alice. The Queen’s Croquet Ground is a small activity area where you turn yourself into one of the Queen’s guards. Yes, you will become a playing card. After croquet, it’s time to sit down to have tea with the Mad Hatter. You are invited to attend A Mad Tea Party which is an animated 3D tea party made especially for visitors of Wonderland. An amazing concept, but nothing really new if you have been coming to Singapore’s Art Festivals for the past few years. Who Stole The Tarts? This place showcases the Queen in all her mean and nasty glory. It is one of the smaller, but nicer places to visit before heading over to see Alice’s Evidence. This last room is where you realize how much Alice and her Adventures in Wonderland has influenced our culture. It has been one of the many stories that many know and remember, but some have only just vaguely heard of. But the influence of the many films show just how much Alice has been a part of our lives.

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