Museum of Broadway finally lands in Times Square
New York, New York – Broadway has long heralded the world's best theater, but now, its long-awaited museum has finally opened.
The epicenter of the world's brightest stage plays and musicals has found its home in Times Square and New York City's Theater District, and now, the Museum of Broadway has too.
Located at 45 West 45th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, the space officially opened last week as a permanent installation. The locale is "interactive, informative, Instagrammable and experiential," the museum said. It "highlights groundbreaking moments in Broadway’s history," allowing visitors to "travel the timeline of Broadway from its birth to present day" with exhibitions like a Map Room and behind-the-scenes peaks.
The museum had a star-studded opening and ribbon cutting ceremony attended by New York City Mayor Eric Adams and bigwigs of theater and politics.
"We created this museum to honor Broadway: Its legendary history, its brilliant artists, its tireless preservationists and its invaluable supporters," co-founders and Broadway producers Julie Boardman and Diane Nicoletti said.
"You've never seen Broadway like this before!"
Observers anticipating its opening hope the museum will breathe new life into Broadway after the industry took a massive hit during the pandemic. Theaters remained closed for 18 months, many people lost their jobs, and numerous shows did not reopen or closed a few months after reopening due to Covid surges.
Museum of Broadway will show off the history and glitz of theater in New York
The Broadway Museum doesn't have a lot of space, but it can fit a lot in it: an outline of the history of theater in New York, a gallery on the work that goes into plays and musicals, as well as entire rooms dedicated to major shows like Rent, Hair, and Phantom of the Opera. The latter is the longest-running show on Broadway and is set to stage its last performance in February after 35 years in New York.
Long before then, the history of theater in the city probably began in the 18th century, quite a bit further south than it is today, and perhaps officially with a comedy called The Recruiting Officer. It's said to be the first professionally performed play in New York in 1732, staged in a small theater near the southern tip of Manhattan.
Over the centuries, the theaters grew in size and number and, due to lack of space, moved further up the island, along Broadway near Times Square.
Famous titles like Phantom, Show Boat, Hair, The Lion King, and Hamilton have cemented Broadway's status as a cultural phenomenon in the 20th and 21st centuries. For many actors, singers, directors, and fans, it was the place to be and is the pinnacle of performance. It's biggest annual event, the Tony Awards, continues to be broadcast live in primetime and often awards coveted acting statues to Hollywood and TV celebrities.
The Museum of Broadway is the culmination of years of artists' work, and visitors can expect lots of music and costumes, including the dress in which Hollywood star Meryl Streep made her Broadway premiere in the 1975 play Trelawny of the Wells.
"People think all these things just disappear," said costume curator Michael McDonald. At the new museum, "they'll be amazed."
Cover photo: Collage: Instagram/museumofbroadway