The Wonderful World of Broadway

Zach Dulli Archive

By Julie Boardman, 2-time Tony Award winner and co-founder of The Museum of Broadway

I believe we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and think it is imperative to learn from our past in order to build the future. The story we tell inside The Museum of Broadway is centered around this idea. We then take it a step further to pull back the curtain and show people how a Broadway show is made…that it all starts with a blank page and an idea…we follow the path shows take to Broadway and to eventually be performed in schools.

I never envisioned I would bring The Museum of Broadway to life. It is a hidden obvious — something that should have always existed. Yet somehow, myself along with my partner Diane Nicoletti and an incredible team, were the ones to build a 26,000 sf museum in the heart of Times Square dedicated to all things Broadway where people of all ages are educated, entertained, and inspired.

We start the timeline in 1732 with the first documented performance in New York City and highlight pioneers and trailblazers as we track the advancement of the art form. Exhibits dedicated to some of the shows that changed the landscape of Broadway were designed by internationally renowned artists and designers. The history comes to life around you. You’re surrounded by the opulence of The Ziegfeld Follies, walk through a cornfield in Oklahoma!, learn the iconic choreography of West Side Story, and try your skills in an anagram puzzle highlighting the work of Stephen Sondheim. You see a deconstructed chandelier where each crystal represents a performance, The Phantom of the Opera, played on Broadway. The list goes on and is quite comprehensive, with timeline walls highlighting milestone moments and hundreds of plays and musicals along the way. Each exhibit is coupled with costumes, handwritten lyric sketches, lighting plots, props — the items one might imagine belong in a museum. You make your way through time and land in the present-day with costumes worn by your favorite stars — Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Hudson, Sutton Foster, Ben Platt, André De Shields, and so many more. Some people take about 90 minutes to go through, others stay and read for hours, immersed in the history.

You then knock on a stage door and go backstage to learn how a show is made. Designed by Tony Award-winning scenic designer & prolific architect David Rockwell, the exhibit transports you into the world of backstage. You see the craft, the creative process, what someone’s day is like when they work in the theatre. You hear from over 150 people — from Broadway icons like Chita Rivera, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Stephen Schwartz to those whose jobs you may not even realize exist. You see the art of distressing, the magic of stage blood and prosthetics, how to make a set model, the casting process, what a producer does. We created what I only wish had existed when I was young. We even added a rehearsal studio to The Museum of Broadway for classes, workshops, programming, events, and even pizza parties for students before they see shows!

The last permanent exhibit is one particularly close to my heart, The Making of a Broadway Show. I grew up surrounded by the arts in Orange County, CA, performing from the age of 5. I always envisioned my life onstage…never knowing one day I would end up being a Broadway producer with over a dozen credits to my name so far. I didn’t even really know the job of a producer existed when I first came to NYC as a 10-year-old dreaming of performing, nor when I visited with my high school choir. If The Museum of Broadway had existed at either point, I would have realized there were many more opportunities to work on Broadway besides acting.

They say if you build it, they’ll come. I hope you’ll consider visiting The Museum of Broadway on your next trip to New York City!


Visit the Museum of Broadway to plan your visit.

The Scene Logo

Sign up for a weekly free roundup of the latest news in theatre education

License Harry Potter and The Cursed Child
Join Broadway Book Club