August 16 – 22, 2019Vol. 21, No. 11

Mad Hatters Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Project

In the fall of last year, the newly formed Mad Hatters Committee launched a campaign to save The Alice in Wonderland Room, which had been generously donated in its entirety to the Cary Memorial Library by Grace Burleigh, a revered resident of Wayne. The room has both cultural and historical significance.

The first step taken was to seek professional counsel in the fields of humanities and museology to determine if the room was worth the price of saving. The experts' consensus was unanimous that The Alice Room should be saved for present and future generations. Two of the best Conservators in the state of Maine have dismantled the room and conservation has begun on the 87-year old art panels that were painted on gypsum board.

This treasure has entertained many young children over the years. The artist, Alfred T. Merian, was a trained architect at Harvard, but in 1932, under the eaves in his mother's home in Wayne, he painted seventeen panels depicting the iconic children's tale of Alice falling down the rabbit hole. Lewis Carroll, the British author, wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in 1865 and the book has been in print for over 150 years.

The panels including the Cheshire cat, the tea party, the lobster quadrille and other illustrations were painted in the style of the original illustrator, Sir John Tenniel. Recently the first conserved panel showing an elongated Alice after she had drunk from the magical little bottle as been preserved and returned to Wayne where it was showcased at an event in June.

The second phase of the project is now underway to install the restored Alice Room in the adjacent historic carriage barn at the Williams House, a library property and hub for many community events. Remodeling and upgrading the lighting, heating, and conformity with ADA, including the specially configured Alice room, will require additional funding. Conservation of additional art panels continues and once the space is completed, the Cary Memorial Library will incorporate literary programs and events for the children and adults in Kennebec County and throughout the state of Maine.

The total cost of the Alice Room project is $98,000. Thanks to generous donors, over half of these funds has been raised to date. The Mad Hatters Committee continues their fundraising efforts in order to complete this unique project.

Donations are welcome and can be made to the Wayne Library Association, earmarked for the Alice Room project, Cary Memorial Library, 17 Old Winthrop Road, Wayne, and at Post Office Box 127, Wayne, Maine 04284. As an interpretive dimension to the Alice Room, a recent book has been released on the global phenomenon of Alice in Wonderland and her adventures in the town of Wayne. It is available for purchase at the Cary Memorial Library.

Please join us in Alice's journey as it gets "curiouser and curiouser." One will be surprised when the impact of Alice's Adventures is understood and how it has influenced the literary and art world and our day to day expressions. For more information, call the library at 685-3612 or visit its website.