Down the Rabbit Hole at the Morgan Museum and Library

I traveled to the Morgan Museum and Library to see Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland. Besides seeing the first manuscripts of the classic tale, I also got to explore the beautiful library.

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

“How do you know I am mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

MORGAN MUSEUM AND LIBRARY, NEW YORK, NY- Last Sunday I traveled to the Morgan Museum and Library to see Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland the exhibit with Gilberto and Alondra. Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorite classics and I was curious to see Lewis Carroll’s process on writing the book.

The exhibit was in a small room decorated with yellow painted walls and blue text. Carroll’s photographs of Alice Liddell were displayed alongside John Tenniel’s illustrations. Alice Liddell inspired Carroll to write the classic childrens story. The novel’s original drafts were displayed in glass cases. Each section of the exhibit explained either the author’s writing process or Tenniel’s. I loved seeing the original manuscript and the first published edition of Alice in Wonderland side by side.

Carroll got inspiration for the characters in Wonderland based on his scientific findings and photography. The Dodo was based off research he did on the now extinct bird. The duchess, Queen of Hearts, Dormouse, Mad Hatter, March Hare, White Rabbit, Knave, Pig, Lizard, Gryphon, Mock Turtle, and Cheshire Cat were all characters from his imagination.

The Cheshire Cat is my favorite character within the story. Back in the 1800’s the definition of a Cheshire grin was “to smile mischievously from ear to ear.” That definition has changed since Alice was published and is now used more as a reference. Still, the scene where Alice meets the Cheshire Cat gives a lot of “logical nonsense” to think about.

There were other artifacts from Carroll within the exhibit such as his camera, playwright journal, personal diary, and microscope. Various scenes from the book are replicated on the walls. Not everything was open for photography, but I captured what I could. Gil soaked up all the information available. Alondra meanwhile read a small version of the classic in a little sitting area at the gallery.

After Wonderland, we explored the Morgan library. It was wall to wall full of rare books! I felt like Belle when she first saw the Beast’s Library in Beauty and the Beast. I was in awe. I read some of the titles on the spines of the books. Most were in French or Latin. There were music scores in display cases, vanity chairs, and a fireplace. The architecture was just amazing, and it had the right amount of lighting. His study was as big as my apartment and Alondra discovered another hidden library inside a closet. The book nerd in me squealed with joy. Gil was fascinated by the music scores.

At the end of the day, I bought some cool postcards as a souvenir. I wish I was able to take more pictures, but it is strict there. Still, this was a great experience for my first visit at the Morgan. 150 Years in Wonderland ends October 11, 2015.


Photos: Rosa Elena Burgos 

Last Updated: October 28, 2021

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