He was a founding father and the nation’s first secretary of the treasury, and he wrote the bulk of the Federalist Papers. But Lin-Manuel Miranda has found a way to make Alexander Hamilton a star of modern times. Through the billion-dollar Broadway rap musical, audiences all over have come to appreciate the story of Hamilton’s life as told through a contemporary eye.
And "Hamilton" obsessives can now rejoice that the story isn’t over yet. As Chris Jones reports for The Chicago Tribune, Miranda is making “Hamilton: An American Musical” into an interactive exhibition this fall.
Called “Hamilton: The Exhibition,” it’s set to open in Chicago this November, and it promises to deliver a deeper dive into the founding father’s life and times.
“People want to learn more,” Miranda tells Jones. “It seems that two hours and 45 minutes of a musical were just not enough for them. I know from my Twitter account.”
According to the official website, the “360-degree immersive exhibition” inspired by the musical will feature an audio narrative by Miranda and will use “Hamilton” as a vehicle to steer audiences through the creation of the United States of America.
The narrative arc of the exhibition will follow that of the musical, Paulson writes. It will start in St. Croix— Hamilton’s childhood home— and chronicle his emigration from the Caribbean to New York in 1772, his military and political paths and his family life. Replica letters, documents and objects will provide historical context, as will input from historians led by Joanne Freeman of Yale University and Annette Gordon-Reed of Harvard University.
Freeman says the exhibition presents the opportunity to serve as a companion to the musical phenomenon and go deeper into the history Manuel mined for its narrative. “There’s a spectrum of responses to the musical among academics, but to me this is the supreme teaching moment for early American history — not to teach the play, but to use it to teach,” she tells Paulson. “To understand what America is, we have to understand the past, and if people come away from this exhibit having a sense of all the people engaged in this big debate over who had power and who didn’t, and the contingencies of that moment, and thinking ‘This is kind of interesting,’ that would be wonderful.”
Creative director David Korins, who designed the set for “Hamilton” along with the musical’s director Thomas Kail and producer Jeffrey Seller, are also on board for the pop-up experience, which will be built in a free-standing tent roughly the size of a football field.
The exhibition is slated to stay in Chicago, where the musical continues to perform for sold-out audiences, for at least six months, Jones reports, and then it will travel to other cities.
"Hamilton: the Exhibition" is just the latest addition to the body of works inspired by the musical. According to a press release, among other things, there is a highly successful Hamilton MIXTAPE (with more music coming at least through December), a book about the making of the revolutionary musical, a PBS behind-the-scenes documentary and the Hamilton Education Program, put on through the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, which brings a “Hamilton”-based curriculum to 11th graders.
While details about the newest experience in the "Hamilton" canon haven’t been finalized yet, Jones reports that as many as 20,000 people could visit the pop up exhibition each week. Tickets are not yet on sale, but true Hamilfans who are "past patiently waiting" and don't want to throw away their
shot spot can go ahead and sign up on the exhibition’s website for an early heads up on when they'll be posted.