Cue the orchestra: The Museum of Broadway is set to open in NYC


New York City is home to a variety of galleries and exhibition halls, but until now, it hasn’t had one devoted to the history of Broadway.

The Museum of Broadway is set to open Tuesday at 145 West 45th Street. Visitors will be able to journey through the memories of the city’s legendary theater district — from its inception to present day. The museum’s resident historian, Ben West, created timeline walls containing hundreds of iconic images, including Ethel Merman in the 1959 production of “Gypsy” and Katharine Hepburn’s 1969 performance in “Coco.”

Timeline walls take visitors on a journey through Broadway’s storied past at the Museum of Broadway.

Photo by Monique Carboni

“There are quotes. There are lyrics. There are milestone moments,” West said.

One of those milestones centers around the 1921 show “Tangerine,” which West said was billed as a musical satire of the sexes. The bulk of the show is set on an island where women go to work and men remain in the home. He said it was the first full score from a little known female composer named Alma Sanders.

“I chose to include this particular anecdote because it speaks to the social sensibilities of the time and this idea of female artists in particular being present — but also having the difficulties of having to break through social norms,” West said.

The story has an added implication, West said, because a few months prior to “Tangerine” opening, Alma Sanders’ husband divorced her because “she refused to keep house.”

In addition to immersing themselves in Broadway’s rich history, museum-goers will be able to marvel at props and costumes from various shows over the years, from the simple red dress worn by the title character in “Annie” to more elaborate garb used in “The Phantom of the Opera.”

“The Phantom of the Opera” costumes at the Museum of Broadway.

Photo by Monique Carboni

The space also undresses Broadway by providing a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into creating and mounting a production. An exhibit called “The Making of a Broadway Show” shines a spotlight on the wide range of professionals — both on and off stage — responsible for creating theatrical magic along the “Great White Way.” West said he hopes the exhibit inspires people to think about myriad career opportunities in the industry.

“There is an opportunity to see a space for oneself that is not on stage necessarily,” West said.

The Museum of Broadway was founded by Julie Boardman, an entrepreneur and Tony award-winning Broadway producer, and Diane Nicoletti, a creative director, producer, and entrepreneur.

Unlike what visitors to a theater often encounter, cell phone use will be highly encouraged at the Museum of Broadway. The space includes immersive experiences perfect for selfies, featuring “The Lion King,” “HAIR,” “Rent,” and other productions.

The “HAIR” immersive experience at the Museum of Broadway.

Photo by Monique Carboni

You can purchase tickets on the museum’s website. Timed tickets start at $39. A portion of every ticket sold goes to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.


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