BY: ELIZABETH DURAND STREISAND
I personally feel I’ve lived a lifetime since March 12, when Broadway closed its doors for what has become an indefinite period of time — and over the last few months, I’ve learned to cling to (and celebrate!) every piece of news that looks ahead to the return of the Great Bright Way. Which brings me to The Museum of Broadway, the brainchild of two enterprising industry veterans who also happen to be friends. Their names are Julie Boardman and Diane Nicoletti and if you could use some uplifting news do yourself a favor and read on.
Broadway Spin: Where did the idea for the Museum of Broadway come from and who is behind it?
Julie Boardman: Broadway is the #2 reason tourists come to NYC (after shopping). It is an international brand, and a tentpole of American culture, yet there has never been a museum or place to honor it properly. I wanted to change that.
I work on the producing end of Broadway, but I also run an event staffing agency (Boardman Productions), through which I work with a variety of agencies on promotional brand activations. I went to my favorite client & longtime friend, Diane Nicoletti, with that conundrum: “Why is there not a Broadway museum? And if there was one, how would you make it fun & contemporary?” The answer is to make it a hybrid experience. What you’d *expect* a museum to be and what it *could* be. A historical, educational museum blended with the new concept of a “museum” — similar to the Museum of Ice Cream or Color Factory.
BS: What will the Museum be like when it’s actually open? What can people expect from their experience?
Diane Nicoletti: Think of it as an immersive, experiential way to tell Broadway’s story using art and technology to celebrate Broadway. We’ve brought together a team of internationally renowned artists, designers & historians — both from Broadway & the experiential world — to design the museum. It will be educational but told in a fun, accessible way! We are going to share information about the history of the Broadway theaters through projection mapping videos, the timeline of Broadway told through immersive environments that will leave people’s Instagram feeds full of great photos and give guests a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a Broadway show by spotlighting all the jobs and what it takes to create a Broadway show. There are other surprises and sections of the museum that will excite fans young and old!
BS: How has the development process been from initial idea to execution?
JB: The process has been very collaborative and we’ve gotten a lot of support from the community. The Museum of Broadway is the physical brand extension of the thing we all love, Broadway. It’s meant to be as inclusive as possible and honor Broadway’s past, present and future.
BS: How did COVID-19 affect the plans for building out the museum / opening the museum?
DN: COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on Broadway. It shut down our entire industry. But there are glimmers of hope, even now. We’ll open in Times Square on the other side of COVID-19, which gives us something great to look forward to. The Museum of Broadway feels like it will be even more meaningful now as it celebrates the art form, people and industry we all know and love. We simply cannot wait!
What do you hope people take away from their visit to the Museum?
JB: Overall we want people leaving with a sense of joy and a better understanding of Broadway. Theater can be so inspiring and it is important to remember some of the firsts that Broadway brought to the stage and its overall cultural impact. Through working with our curating team there are so many little treasures we want to share with the world. One example: did you know early in Broadway’s history much of the storytelling was done by women? And during cultural uprisings it was musicals like Oklahoma!, Hair and RENT that opened people’s eyes to hope, freedom and acceptance. Art can inspire, change people’s minds, create empathy, show different perspectives and, of course, entertain — we hope the Museum of Broadway will do all these things and be one small part in celebrating Broadway’s legacy and inspiring the next generation of theatergoers and creators.
As a final thought, the Museum of Broadway also has a seriously fun Instagram that you should definitely be following for your daily dose of kick lines, glitter bombs, and Broadway history.