Online Exhibition Review: 150 Years of Wonderland

The Morgan Library & Museum hosted a temporary exhibit in late 2015 entitled “Alice: 150 Years in Wonderland” celebrating the 150th anniversary of the classic work of children’s literature and its lasting influence. This exhibition featured the Morgan’s own unique collection of Alice and Wonderland memorabilia and original illustrations as well as  materials on loan from the British Library. To supplement the in-person temporary exhibit the Morgan Library and Museum created a companion online exhibit that boasts several innovations including transcriptions of correspondence detailing the history of the original manuscript,  a Spotify playlist listing songs inspired by the story, and video of early film adaptations.

alice-intro

“Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland” uses video as a method to enhance the engagement of its audience by offering original footage different film adaptions of Carroll’s book. This section, Alice on the Silver Screen, offers three very different film adaptations for the exhibit viewers. The first film version of Alice in Wonderland, released in 1903, was the first instance of Lewis Carroll’s book being adapted to a film version. The original film is housed in the British Film Institute’s Archives. The second and third versions of the film shown on the site are from 1915 to 1931.  Each of the films are available to stream on the exhibit using YouTube as a platform.

In addition to using video to show digitized versions of film classics, the exhibit creators also produced a video in partnership with NYC-ARTS Choice describing the process of bringing the exhibit to life, the inspiration behind the famous story, and its legacy through the ages.  The video can be found here.

In the Videomaker Guide to Video Production, John Burkhart describes the benefits of using video as a medium to place an audience there with the subject, allowing viewers to experience the space on screen despite restrictions of time and space.  The Morgan Library & Museum uses this facet of the video-making process to their benefit. Using footage from the exhibit space and placing it online, like they did with the NYC-ARTS Choice video, creates opportunities for potential exhibit patrons to view the space and artifacts from the comfort of their own home, no matter how far away. Furthermore, allowing access to original film footage through a third party streaming service enables viewers to watch film from a different era, improving understanding of the different ways that the classic story has inspired popular culture in the years following its publication. Both experiences vastly enrich the educational content of the exhibit for its audience while accomplishing a primary goal of video-making: to entertain.

 

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