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New Broadway Museum Opens in New York : NPR


The genius is just one of the shows celebrated in the new Broadway Museum.

Monique Carboni/Broadway Museum


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Monique Carboni/Broadway Museum

New Broadway Museum Opens in New York : NPR

The genius is just one of the shows celebrated in the new Broadway Museum.

Monique Carboni/Broadway Museum

A few years ago, Tony Award-winning producer Julie Boardman and Diane Nicoletti, who created fan experiences for game of thrones and Marvel, were chatting at an event. Boardman said one of his investors asked why there was no museum on Broadway.

“I just stopped dead in my tracks,” Nicoletti said. “I was like, ‘You’re right. Why isn’t there? That’s great!’ Like, let’s go!”

And so they did. The couple reached out to theater producers, organizations and theater owners to sponsor the for-profit museum. And after the pandemic hit, they rented a closed Irish pub just off Times Square and filled three floors with exhibits, some interactive.

Now, after years of hard work, the Broadway Museum is open, and it’s located just off Times Square and right next to the Lyceum Theater.

New Broadway Museum Opens in New York : NPR

The Museum of Broadway is in the Theater District, just off Times Square.

Monique Carboni/The Broadway Museum


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Monique Carboni/The Broadway Museum

New Broadway Museum Opens in New York : NPR

The Museum of Broadway is in the Theater District, just off Times Square.

Monique Carboni/The Broadway Museum

“We are a museum. We are also an attraction,” Nicoletti said. She said, it’s supposed to be fun. “You know, they’re still seeing the artifacts and they’re getting a great education. But it’s definitely something that’s going to really excite them, I hope.”

The museum itself has three parts: The Map Room, where there is a short film that describes the history of New York theater and a map of the location of each current theater, a Broadway timeline that spans most of the exhibition and a special section. called the making of a Broadway show.

New Broadway Museum Opens in New York : NPR

The timeline walls educate visitors about the history of theater in New York.

Monique Carboni/The Broadway Museum


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Monique Carboni/The Broadway Museum

New Broadway Museum Opens in New York : NPR

The timeline walls educate visitors about the history of theater in New York.

Monique Carboni/The Broadway Museum

The Broadway Timeline itself is made up of two floors filled with images and artifacts – costumes, props, documents – illustrating the history of New York theater from minstrel and vaudeville to the present day.

There are special rooms dedicated to Broadway shows. The glitzy Ziegfeld Follies Hall is upholstered in pink feathers and has a small vanity and mirror and case with display items, like small wooden “clapping hammers”. On one side are actual costumes from the early 20e century with feathered headdresses and saddlebags so wide it’s surprising they can squeeze into small backstage spaces.

New Broadway Museum Opens in New York : NPR

The Ziegfeld Follies bedroom is lined with pink feathers.

Monique Carboni/The Broadway Museum


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Monique Carboni/The Broadway Museum

New Broadway Museum Opens in New York : NPR

The Ziegfeld Follies bedroom is lined with pink feathers.

Monique Carboni/The Broadway Museum

Many exhibits have been created by Broadway designers.

In one room, the (fake) corn is “as high as an elephant’s eye”.

It is, of course, the Oklahoma! bedroom.

“Corn is pretty high,” resident historian and Walls of Timeline curator Ben West laughed as he paid a visit.

As “Oh What A Beautiful Mornin” plays in the background, visitors walk past this corn and examine what looks like a barn wall, where they can see posted footage from the original 1943 production, as well as replicas of Musical Manuscripts by Richard Rodgers and The Lyrical Sketches of Oscar Hammerstein. Oklahoma! was not the first to incorporate music, song, story and dance but, said West, it “really represents excellence in how they are all woven together to tell one theatrical story”.

There are plenty of imaginative stops along the timeline – a room dedicated to West Side Story, designed to look like the pharmacy where the Jets hang out, and a “roof” where you can dance along with a video of the original choreography; a room dedicated to Hair, where you can watch groovy original costumes from 1968 and a Broadway revival and sit on a swing, listen to the songs (or take a selfie for Instagram). Costumes are displayed from A chorus line amid sparkling panels and mirrors.

New Broadway Museum Opens in New York : NPR

The museum has many Instagrammable sets, like this one celebrating Hair.

Monique Carboni/The Broadway Museum


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New Broadway Museum Opens in New York : NPR

The museum has many Instagrammable sets, like this one celebrating Hair.

Monique Carboni/The Broadway Museum

A dark room displays a section of Broadway from the AIDS quilt and on the walls names of artists lost to the epidemic, including Michael Bennett, who directed A chorus line.

Curator Ben West said the museum will be continually updated – for example, a display of current costumes has a mannequin with a sign, but no clothes. “Hugh Jackman is currently naked,” he laughed. “It will sell tickets! »

The final leg of the tour is “The Making of a Broadway Show”, created by set designer and architect David Rockwell.

The exhibit is an immersive behind-the-scenes look at every Broadway show – from a stage manager’s office to a dedicated writers’ room, and areas explaining costumes and set design. In one of the museum’s Instagram scenes, visitors can have their photo taken on a “stage”, with large videos making it look like the auditorium is in the background. And there are videos with hundreds of theater makers describing their craft.

“You know, I think a lot of people come to Broadway, want to see the show, and get inspired by it,” said Dan Marino, one of the show’s designers. “But there is such a sight behind the show is happening.”

At the end of the exhibit there is a link to a website with information on careers on Broadway. Even if it’s not quite the end.

“Because there’s a gift shop,” West said. And what would a visit to Broadway be without merchandise?

New Broadway Museum Opens in New York : NPR

The Broadway Museum Gift Shop.

Monique Carboni/The Broadway Museum


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New Broadway Museum Opens in New York : NPR

The Broadway Museum Gift Shop.

Monique Carboni/The Broadway Museum

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