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On with the Show

The Museum of Broadway opens its curtains, wowing guests with its immersive history

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THERE’S A NEW STAR on Broadway: Devoted to the uniquely American artform, the curtain rose last November on the Museum of Broadway, a mix of artifacts, ephemera and showtunes.

“Retail is theater,” as the saying goes. Indeed, history reminds us of the crossover between artists and cultural art forms. Not so long ago, legendary window dresser Gene Moore asked Andy Warhol to design show windows for Bonwit Teller. Today, it’s fitting the Museum of Broadway tapped veteran retail and hospitality firms to get on with their show.

On with the Show THIS PAGE: Every exhibit immerses visitors through props, sheet music, sights and sounds.

Located on 45th Street in New York City’s Theater District, visitors navigate the three-level, 26,000-square-foot venue through sections. One section maps how New York theaters, originally near Wall Street, migrated to present-day venues around Times Square. Another section features a vibrant timeline that traces Broadway’s 1750s beginnings to its current productions.

Each room and exhibit is designed around the historical timeline of Broadway – opening-night telegrams, sketches, handwritten sheet music, costumes and props set the scene.

On with the Show 📷 Courtesy of the Museum of Broadway

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Take the “Oklahoma!” room where barn imagery covers one wall. Photos from the original 1943 Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein production, along with replicas of Rodgers’s score and Hammerstein’s lyrics, are on view while actor Gordon MacRae, as Curly McLain, sings “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.” Similarly singled out are “West Side Story,” “A Chorus Line” and “Rent” for their genre-breaking contributions to musical theater. In total, the museum highlights more than 500 productions through ephemera such as sketchbooks, show posters, album covers and Playbill covers.

The show isn’t over until visitors peek backstage to the making of a Broadway show and take to the stage for a photo. Created by Tony Award-winner Scenic Designer/Architect David Rockwell, Rockwell Group (New York), the immersive and Instagrammable exhibit salutes the talents of stage managers, writers, costumers and set designers, among those who make the magic.

On with the Show BELOW: The three-level, 26,000-square-foot Museum of Broadway debuted this past November in New York.

“It really paints the picture of how that all comes to be,” says Julie Boardman, museum Co-Founder and Tony Award-winning producer, “and then honors all of the brilliant, talented creatives who bring it to life.”

Special exhibits will join permanent displays. The museum opened with an exclusive showcase devoted to Al Hirschfeld, Broadway’s “King of Caricature.” Currently, the special exhibit is “All that Jazz: The Legacy of Chicago the Musical,” a retrospective of the near quarter-century of “Chicago” on Broadway, including “iconic production photography and ad campaigns,” says Diane Nicoletti, museum Co-Founder and Founder of Rubik Marketing (New York).

On with the Show

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The last stop at street level is the 1135-square-foot gift shop designed by Boardman, Nicoletti and Paul Bennett Architects, PC (New York), known for its work with FRAME, L’Agence and Balenciaga. There’s merch from current Broadway shows, logoed museum goods, books, prints and upcycled scenery made into handbags and jewelry. Wall-mounted Playbills with QR codes facilitate purchasing tickets to current shows.

PHOTO GALLERY (23 IMAGES)
📷 Courtesy of the Museum of Broadway

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Former editor-in-chief of VMSD magazine. Writing for VMSD since 1985-1998; 2022.

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