Exploring Wonderland

you probably know if you are a frequent reader of the Rosenblog or visitor to
the Rosenbach, we have had a very busy fall with the opening of “Down the Rabbit Hole: Celebrating 150 Years of Alicein Wonderland.”
Alongside this wonderful exhibition—which is on now through May 15, 2016—we
presented a full fall roster of public programs to highlight and explore themes
in the exhibition.
you heard the one about the writer, the visual artist and the cognitive
scientist stuck in a room with a copy of Alice’s
Adventures in Wonderland
? Well, they weren’t exactly stuck … and they were
joined by a sold-out audience, but we presented just that on October 21, 2015,
with the program “Alice and the Art of Looking.” The panel featured Maria
Popova, founder of the “digest of interestingness” that is Brain Pickings; Maira Kalman,
author/illustrator of many books for adults and children; and AlexandraHorowitz,
a cognitive scientist who studies psychology and animal behavior. The trio’s
wide-ranging conversation addressed Alice’s
Adventures in Wonderland
 as a masterwork of narrative and an allegory
for existence through science, storytelling, art, and asked the question,
what is the “looking glass” of society today? The audience enjoyed diving
into the unique perspective offered by each of the panelists even further
during a lively question and answer period and proved just how many
interpretations and experiences are contained within this one brilliant work.

very next evening, we were thrilled to have Leonard Marcus,
acclaimed children’s literature expert and guest curator for the “Down the
Rabbit Hole” exhibition, present a slideshow talk on the significance of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in the philosophy
and practice of the Surrealist painters. Particularly fascinating was the way
in which Marcus drew connections between Lewis Carroll’s “nonsense” and its
influence on the work of René Magritte and Salvador Dalí.
November 11 and 18, Emilie Parker, Director of Education, and I made the trip
to the lovely Bryn Mawr Film Institute to introduce two
films: Dreamchild (1985, directed by
Gavin Millar) and Alice (1988,
directed by Jan Švankmajer). These were two of a four-part series of Alice-related films screened by BMFI in
partnership with our exhibition. The films curated by BMFI illustrated just
some of the ways in which Lewis Carroll’s classic book has had immense impact
on a wide variety of filmmakers of varying styles and approaches. 
his appearance as part of the Free Library’s always-excellent Author Events
we were honored to host Simon Winchester on November 16 in a sold-out talk on
his book, The Alice Behind Wonderland,
which explores Lewis Carroll’s photography and his depiction of the real-life
Alice in his 1858 photo “Alice Liddell as the Beggar Maid”.
Winchester elucidated the way in which a passion for photography, a very new
hobby at the time, was a portal through which Charles Dodgson, a socially
awkward Oxford mathematician, was able to access his creativity to create some
of the most beloved literary works through his alter ego, Lewis Carroll. 
December 3, artist and illustrator Charles Santore offered a robust Rosenbach
audience a glimpse into his studio with a slideshow talk. Santore showed images
depicting his progression in the illustration process of his edition of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground—from
staged photographs, to sketches, to full watercolor panels. As an extra treat, the
artist brought some original illustrations with him for an up-close look at his
work. Santore’s generosity carried over into the book-signing where he took the
time to include an original sketch in each book he signed for the audience.
tuned for more exciting “Down the Rabbit Hole” events in 2016, starting with
Christopher Morgan on Lewis Carroll’s puzzles and games on Thursday, January 21, 6:00 pm. If you are interested in a more intimate
experience with our collection, check out one of our Lewis Carroll Hands-On
Tours in January, February or March, or any of our other Hands-On Tours on a variety of subjects. Information on all of our programs is available on our website.
We hope to see you soon!

Alexandra Wilder is the Sunstein Family Manager of Public Programs.