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Broadway Museum in the Works

Pedestrians crossing Broadway and Seventh Avenue. (Photo by: Avalon/UIG via Getty Images)

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Instead of spending a night at the theater, Broadway buffs might soon choose to spend a night at the museum.

Broadway producer Julie Boardman and marketing executive Diane Nicoletti are preparing to open a state-of-the-art museum about the history of the Great White Way in the Theater District. Spotlighting the evolution of the industry from the late 1800’s, the Museum of Broadway is scheduled to run from April through December 2020 with the possibility for an extension.

In addition to showcasing some actual props, costumes, and scenery used in Broadway shows, the planned pop-up exhibit is expected to include numerous photograph opportunities, trivia booths, and interactive areas. “Our museum vision is to incorporate historical richness through visual experiences,” commented its creators during a recent pitch to investors.

The Museum of Broadway is hoping to replicate the recent success of traveling pop-up exhibits where guests capture picturesque moments for their social media profiles.

For example, the Museum of Ice Cream, which features over-sized popsicles and a pool of plastic sprinkles, has attracted 1.3 million visitors, and made over $20 million in ticket sales since 2016. When the pop-up exhibit first opened in Manhattan, it sold out within five days, and over 200,000 people were placed on a waiting list.

“People have a huge library of content to stream at home, but they want to interact,” explained Jared Paul, the founder of a similar traveling exhibit named Happy Place. “I think some of that is driven by share-ability,” he said, suggesting that some people might feel that “‘I’m seeing everyone doing cool things, so I want to do cool things, too.’”

In short, “[m]illennials don’t want things — they want experiences,” commented one writer.

While Broadway producers work in the business of making experiences, it is unclear whether or not a museum about the theatre will have the same appeal as a museum about ice cream. “Ice cream is something that is universal, and really does bring people together,” explained Maryellis Bunn, the founder of the Museum of Ice Cream. “Everyone has an anecdote about ice cream,” she added.

Boardman and Nicoletti are now looking to raise $7.5 million to assemble the pop-up exhibit. Tickets will be priced at $37, and the Museum of Broadway will need to draw at least over 3,800 paid guests each week to cover its operating costs.

Several other people previously tried to create a museum about Broadway.

In 2003, a former drama teacher partnered with Stewart F. Lane, who later created BroadwayHD, and some other individuals to establish The Theatre Museum. Media executive Basil Hero donated 35,000 photographs that he acquired from TheaterWeek and InTheater when the magazines folded. But, while the organization gave out a few awards and presented a small exhibit about showboats, “it never really got off the ground,” commented Leith ter Meulen, who served on its board of trustees.

Yet, many Broadway veterans still believe that there should be a museum about Broadway.

“All major cultural influences have them, from professional sports to Pez, so why shouldn’t we?” commented one Broadway producer. “Museums … are a way of establishing something as being of serious value to our society,” he said.

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About Christopher Ahn

Christopher L. Ahn writes for Lifestyle and Travel Sections in AmericaRichest.

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