Theater enthusiasts now have a museum to call their own. The Museum of Broadway, which opened in November 2022, is located in the heart of Times Square. It is a small, but thoroughly enjoyable and illuminating institution. It is dedicated to the storied history and legendary artistry of Broadway musicals, plays, and theaters.
The emphasis is on musicals, primarily from the 1940’s to the present and features the work of dozens of designers, artists, and theater historians.
Visitors begin their journey with a short, informative video on the history and migration of New York City's theaters from the financial district to Union Square and Herald Square to modern-day Times Square.
The exhibits begin on the third floor and guests work their way down, ending up at the well-appointed gift shop on the first floor. The Museum is set up as an illustrated timeline of Broadway, from its birth to present day. Visitors are only allowed to travel in a forward direction, which helps in the flow of guests.
First stop, the Ziegfeld Follies. There are costumes, posters, advertising placards, all with detailed information panels. Moving along, there are modest-sized rooms of such well-known shows as Show Boat, Oklahoma, West Side Story, Cabaret, A Chorus Line and Rent.
My favorite part of the museum are the numerous original costumes on display. They are not enclosed so you can closely examine their craftsmanship, intricacy, and delicacy. Please, no touching!
|Some of the costumes on display at The Museum of Broadway.|
For individuals interested in theater history and the creative process, there are numerous documents that can be reviewed. For example, there are records from Jonathan Larson’s Rent that include his “Reason for Development,” portions of the script and rehearsal schedule and a letter to Stephen Sondheim about the show.
As you maneuver downstairs to the second floor exhibit space, there are videos and material relating to the many components of fashioning a Broadway musical. Information is presented on composers, librettists, sound and scenic designers. There are large pieces of equipment on display such as a lighting and sound board. There is a fascinating set of miniature set models utilized by the creative personnel as the first foray into how a show will look. In a separate part of the museum there is a sizable, three-dimensional set of Wicked, which visitors can walk around for a 360 degree view.
|Large-scale, 360 degree model of the Wicked set.|
The Museum also stages rotating exhibits. ALL THAT JAZZ: The Legacy of CHICAGO is a retrospective of Chicago’s 26 years on Broadway with a special focus on photography and ad campaigns throughout the years. It runs through September 10, 2023.
As a theater geek steeped in Broadway history and trivia, I found chats with other theater aficionados along the way or in the airy gift shop to be a great deal of fun.
Entry tickets are timed, allowing for a 15-minute buffer. This prevents overcrowding and allows for a leisurely visit. Allot 60 – 75 minutes for your time at the Museum, more if you want to spend time reading the voluminous amount of explanatory and revealing information cards posted throughout.
The Museum of Broadway is located at 145 W. 45th Street, just a stone’s throw from Times Square. Hours are Monday – Sunday, from 9:30am – 6:00pm (open to 8:00pm on Saturday). Click here for complete information and ticket pricing.