Wonderland: Curious Nature Exhibit at New York Botanical Garden

NYBG Wonderland: Curious Nature
A 12-foot-tall White Rabbit at the Leon Levy Visitor Center, Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal, Steel frame, geraniums, sedum; Photo by Marlon Co, courtesy of NYBG

Wonderland: Curious Nature Exhibit at New York Botanical Garden

Fall down the rabbit hole and embark on a unique journey this summer at the New York Botanical Garden(NYBG). Immerse yourself in a land of wonder with NYBG’s latest enchanting exhibition, Wonderland: Curious NatureThis one-of-a-kind exhibit, inspired by the timeless tale Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found Therebrings the magic of curiosity and wonder to life for all families to experience from May 18 through October 27, 2024. Step into this fairytale as you traverse the grounds and venture through the immersive garden-wide adventure. Families can delight in a flower show, art installations, daytime programming, tea parties, and more. We’ve got all the details you need to know before you begin your adventure in Wonderland. 

Be sure to check out The Bronx Zoo’s Animal Chronicles.

About The New York Botanical Garden

Established in 1891, the New York Botanical Garden has been a hub of connection between people, plants, and the planet. NYBG allows New Yorkers to leave the concrete jungle and explore nature without going far. Situated in the Bronx, NYBG is a sanctuary for nature lovers, art enthusiasts, and eventgoers, drawing millions of visitors annually. It houses world-class exhibitions and research collections, with a dedicated team that nurtures nature. 

At the New York Botanical Garden, expert scientists are at the forefront of global efforts to combat climate change and biodiversity loss, underscoring its commitment to environmental research. The garden also plays a vital role in educating the public about environmental conservation through various programs for all ages. These include interactive sessions for children to learn about the natural world, healthy eating, and a Continuing Education program offering training in floral design, landscape architecture, botany, gardening, and more. For over 90 years, its School of Professional Horticulture has been producing top horticulturists. 

As NYBG states, they “train the next generation of botanists, gardeners, landscape designers, and environmental stewards, ensuring a green future for all. At NYBG, it’s nature—or nowhere.”

A Peek Into Wonderland: Curious Nature

Sculptures in Nature

Prepare to be captivated by the art and sculptures at the NYBG inspired by Alices Adventures in Wonderland. This season, the garden is transformed into a gallery of contemporary art inspired by nature and storytelling. The captivating Leon Levy Visitor Center features a stunning 12-foot-tall White Rabbit sculpture made entirely from plants. At the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, visitors can explore a blend of traditional English garden plants and fantastical flora, including massive tropical water lilies and unique plant selections. Outside, the Conservatory Lawn showcases over 100 geometric topiaries and kinetic mushroom sculptures with dynamic, colorful LEDs against the iconic conservatory dome. 

NYBG Wonderland: Curious Nature
A mysterious rabbit hole bridges an orderly walled garden with a floral display of oddities of the plant world; Photo by Marlon Co, courtesy of NYBG

Artists have created astonishing works throughout the garden, including Alyson Shotz’s “A World Made of Time, which is meant to “invite visitors to engage nature through shifting perspectives created by sunlight and wind, Yoko Ono’s unique chess game “Play It By Trust, with oversized pieces and a large playing board, inspired by Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There and architect Andre Kong studio “Homegrown cottage made of mycelium bricks in collaboration with Ecovative Design; a leading biomaterials company which develops high-performance, environmentally-conscious packaging. These innovative artworks offer a fresh perspective on art, nature, and sustainability.

Art Exhibit

Art Exhibit
Three Portals for Alice, Patrick Jacobs (b. United States, 1971), mixed media, 15 x 15 x 15; Photo by Marlon Co, courtesy of NYBG

The art exhibits in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Building explore the ongoing appeal of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, connecting to the sense of wonder embodied by the character Alice. The exhibition features 19th-century publications, objects, and early editions of the book; NYBG states that these works play a role in “examining the stories through a modern lens by juxtaposing the historical context with the work of contemporary artists.” Additionally, the exhibit showcases a mushroom sculpture by Carsten Höller, miniature worlds by artist Patrick Jacobs, and a short video by artist Paula Wilson. It also features selections from NYBG’s Mertz Library collections and specimens from the Botanical Garden’s William and Lynda Steere Herbarium.

Art exhibit
Through 19th-century publications, objects, and gadgets—and examples of early Alice editions—the displays in the Mertz Library’s 6th floor art gallery examine the Alice stories through a modern lens; Photo by Marlon Co, courtesy of NYBG

Wonderland: Curious Nature Treats and Goodies

NYBG has made this experience one that will delight your sights and tastebuds with dining options that take this exhibit to a whole new level. Throughout the garden, visitors can enjoy themed refreshments at various locations. Guests will find fun grab-and-go pastry and drink options at the Pine Tree Café, like Alices “Drink Me Lavender Lattes, Queen’s Lemonade, Wonderland Sugar Cookies, and Mad Hatter Chocolate Brownies. 

Tea Party
Tea Party Parties in the Hudson Garden Grill; Photo courtesy of Constellation Culinary Group

The Hudson Garden Grill, the garden’s full-service restaurant, will serve exhibition-themed menus, custom cocktails, and mocktails. The NYBG visitors center offers a Tea-To-Go service and a curated selection of drinks. There is also the Unbirthday Truck and Ice Cream Cart, which offers sweet and savory treats and, last but not least, an enchanting real-life Mad Hatter experience; on Thursday afternoons, by reservation only, head to the Hudson Garden Grill for a Tea Party. The Tea Party from this classic tale will be brought to life with individual pots of tea, delectable savory hors d’oeuvres, tea sandwiches, and an array of sweets.

Visitors can also take this magical adventure home with the perfect themed products sold at the NYBG gift shop. Guests can shop from various products, including colorful floral and mushroom images, t-shirts, magnets, mugs, umbrellas, and Alice-inspired jewelry and accessories.

A Season Of Special Programming That Can’t Be Missed

On Saturdays, Sundays, and select holiday Mondays, characters from Wonderland, including the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, and the White Rabbit, will come to life at the NYBG. At the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, the “Wonderland: Wonder Thyme event will allow “children to explore the natural world from new perspectives inspired by Alice’s adventures, says the NYBG.

Wonderland: Curious Nature
A flower show of curious plants, including colorful, whimsical mushrooms; Photo by Marlon Co, courtesy of NYBG

For adults 21 and over, Wonderland Nights are evening events on select dates—June 1, 8, and 15, from 7 to 10 p.m., with more dates to be announced in September and October. These events feature staged performances and cocktails, including a dance party with Thistle Dance. A special ticket is required for entry. Special ticket prices are $29 for Members and $39 for Non-Members.

Finally, the Fantastic Fungi Weekend, on Saturday and Sunday, September 14 and 15, 2024, will showcase creative voices in food, healing, design, and the performing arts who are inspired by or use fungi in their work. The weekend will include presentations by scientists and demonstrations on the fascinating world of mushrooms and their importance to life on Earth. 

Cost & Hours

The garden is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and on Mondays that are federal holidays. However, special exhibitions and events, such as membership-only previews and evening events, may require early garden closure.

Tickets are available for daytime and evening access to the garden. The All-Garden Pass includes entry to Wonderland: Curious Nature, the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory and Tram Tour, seasonal children’s pop-up programming, and outdoor collections. Ticket prices are $35 for adults, $31 for students with valid ID and seniors aged 65 and above, $15 for children aged 2-12, and free entry for children under two and Patrons/Members. On select dates, the Wonderland Nights ticket allows entry to evening events for individuals 21 and over starting at 6 p.m. This particular ticket is $39 for non-members and $29 for members.

New York City Resident Grounds Access Pass is available for purchase to NYC Residents on Tuesdays and Thursdays-Sundays. The pass includes access to outdoor gardens and collections, with pricing set at adults $15, Students/Seniors $7, Children $4, Children under two Free, and Members Free. Please note that it does not include admission to the Conservatory, Special Exhibitions, or Tram Tour. Proof of residency is required for onsite purchase. Grounds Admission is free all day for NYC residents on Wednesdays and all other visitors between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.

Purchase tickets at nybg.org.

Getting There

The New York Botanical Garden is located at 2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY 10458-5126. It is accessible via the Metro-North, subway, or by car. 

Metro-North: The Botanical Garden is just 20 minutes from Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan via the Metro-North Harlem local line to Botanical Garden Station and is located directly across the street from the Garden’s Mosholu Entrance. 

By Subway: Visitors can take the B, D, or 4 train to Bedford Park Blvd. station and then take the Bx26 bus east to the Garden’s Mosholu Entrance or walk eight blocks down the hill on Bedford Park Blvd. Alternatively, they can take the 2 train to Allerton Ave. station and walk three blocks west on Allerton Ave, then turn left on Bronx Park East and walk two blocks to Waring Ave.

This exhibit opened on May 18 and will be on view until October. Gather the entire family for an adventure to Wonderland this summer!