Dive into Alice’s Wonderland in the V&A’s first-ever VR event
The curator takes visitors on a sneak preview of the museum’s upcoming Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser show, with added psychedelic effects, while a new VR experience sees the world down the rabbit hole brought to life by illustrator Kristjana Williams.
- Jenny Brewer
- 22 September 2020
London’s V&A museum has launched its first-ever VR event, a sneak preview of its anticipated upcoming show Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser, with live effects that bring the psychedelic wonders of the rabbit hole to life. The free event taking place on 22 October at 2pm GMT will take place in a digital landscape inspired by the V&A’s environs and the landscapes and characters of Alice in Wonderland. Visitors can enter as avatars and interact with one another. There’s also a tour by curator Kate Bailey through the exhibition’s five core sections, wherein objects from the show will materialise in the space, and the setting will transform with live effects, such as a pool of tears and a hallway of doors. The 45-minute event is made in partnership with HTC Vive Arts, producers Preloaded and VR app Engage, and will be broadcast live on the museum’s YouTube channel, available to watch after the event.
In tandem, the museum is also launching Curious Alice, a downloadable VR experience to support the exhibition. Illustrations by Icelandic artist Kristjana Williams made for the exhibition’s publication are animated and free to explore by visitors. The scenes depict Alice’s fantastical adventure, while the White Rabbit character is the visitor’s personal companion for the experience. Curious Alice will be available to download through VivePort and other major VR platforms.
When the physical exhibition opens on 27 March 2021, the museum will launch a further VR experience named A Curious Game of Croquet, for use on Vive Cosmos headsets within the exhibition. Located in the show’s “Staging Alice” section, which explores interpretations of Alice on stage and screen, visitors will be transported through mirror-like portals to interact with the book’s characters, and test their croquet skills against the Red Queen.
This first foray into virtual reality represents a landmark for the museum, which is one of many to experiment with VR and digital platforms as a way to innovate events and reach audiences during and post lockdown. Curator Kate Bailey said in a statement: “Since their creation, the Alice books, with their mind-blowing ideas and concepts, have been a source of inspiration for new technologies from silent film to CGI. It has been an extraordinary adventure to work with HTC Vive Arts and Preloaded to take our exhibition into a playful new dimension of VR. Alice’s impossible journey through a fantastical universe becomes possible in this exciting new creative platform. From rabbit holes to mirrors, flamingoes to hedgehogs, Wonderland is the perfect world for VR.”
To access the free launch event on 22 October, visitors must register and create an avatar before the event using the Engage app, or join a Recorded Live of the event to be broadcast on the V&A’s YouTube.
GalleryV&A and HTC Vive Arts: Curious Alice, artworks by Kristjana S Williams (Copyright © V&A Museum London, 2020)
About the Author
After five years as It’s Nice That’s news editor, Jenny became online editor in June 2021, overseeing the website’s daily editorial output.
Jenny is currently on maternity leave.