From classic novels to violent video games to a questionably-lit Tim Burton movie, it seems anything and everything has become Alice in Wonderland-themed these days.
However, the classic tale of a young girl traversing a magical fantasy land has found a new home at this university.
In honor of the 150th anniversary, or sesquicentennial, of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Hornbake Library is displaying a several-hundred piece exhibit on Alice and her impact through history.
The exhibit consists of items from the private collection of Clare and August Imholtz, ages 69 and 72 respectively. The two have been building their collection since the 1970s.
“We concentrate on books and ephemera. We don’t go out of our way to purchase dolls and porcelain, or Alice forks and spoons,” August said.
The Imholtzs’ full collection features more than 4,700 pieces of Alice memorabilia.
Only a fraction of the Imholtzs’ vast collection came to this university. Edith Sandler, the Graduate Assistant for Instruction and Outreach at Hornbake Library, said that despite the hundreds of items her team took out of the Imholtzs’ house to create the exhibit, the couple still had many more.
Sandler has been working on setting up the exhibit since last December.
“This is definitely the longest project I’ve ever worked on and [been] most involved [with],” Sandler said. “We wanted to make sure that the exhibit [met] [the donors’] expectations.”
The exhibit will also feature some of Lewis Carroll’s non-Alice works, though they never reached the levels of acclaim of the Alice series.
August Imholtz said that trying to pick a favorite piece of his collection was like, “trying to ask a grandparent to pick a favorite grandchild.” Sandler’s favorite piece of the exhibit is an edition she has dubbed “Basketball Alice,” which reimagines the story as a large basketball game.
The staff at Hornbake Library is hosting months of activities and events to coincide with the display. Each month, the library will reveal a character portrait with information about specific characters from the novels. They also hope to have local elementary schools bring their students to campus to learn more about Alice.
According to August, the lasting appeal of Alice’s story comes from a human desire to “make sense of a world that doesn’t seem to make sense.”
The exhibit opened on Oct. 1, but the official reception will be held on Oct. 16. The reception is free and open to students.
The exhibit will run through July 2016.
Featured Photo Credit: Testudo wears the Mad Hatter’s hat outside of the Alice in Wonderland 150 Year Exhibit in Hornbake Library. (Josh Loock/Bloc Reporter)
Rosie Brown is a junior journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.