New immersive 'Hamilton' exhibition coming to Chicago in November
Alexander Hamilton has become something of a cottage industry for composer/lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda and his creative team, whose blockbuster bio-musical "Hamilton" earned international acclaim, the Pulitzer Prize and multiple Tony Awards.
Now comes the next incarnation of the show based on Ron Chernow's best-selling biography of the founding father: "Hamilton: The Exhibition," a 360-degree immersive exhibit opening Nov. 17 in a temporary, football-field sized structure on Chicago's Northerly Island.
Offering visitors "an experiential journey," the exhibit traces Hamilton's childhood in St. Croix to his untimely death in 1804, following a duel with longtime political rival Aaron Burr.
"It continues our mission of entertaining, educating, inspiring and illuminating," said "Hamilton" producer Jeffrey Seller, who developed the new venture in collaboration with Miranda, "Hamilton" set designer David Korins and director Thomas Kail.
The exhibition will serve as a companion to Chicago's "Hamilton" production, which opened in October 2016 to critical raves and sold-out houses. A new block of tickets, on sale Tuesday, means the musical will likely remain here through early 2019. Seller indicated the exhibition would remain as long as the show continues in Chicago.
"'Hamilton' is an American story," said Seller. "It belongs to all of us. All people regardless of ethnicity can look upon the story and say, 'that's my story, too.'"
With scholarly assists from Yale University historian Joanne Freeman and Harvard University history and law professor Annette Gordon-Reed to ensure accuracy, the exhibition will portray those aspects of Hamilton's life that Miranda couldn't include in his 2-hour, 45-minute musical. But Hamilton's isn't the only story. Seller and Korins say the exhibition will examine the American Revolution and the nation's birth.
"What the exhibition makes clear is how exceptional our democracy is," Seller said.
Narrated by Miranda, "Hamilton: The Exhibition" incorporates theatrical effects (sound, lighting, video) and includes a representation of the hurricane that devastated Hamilton's homeland when he was 17. The exhibition also recreates items -- such as the Federalist Papers -- and places, including the Weehawken, New Jersey, site where he was fatally wounded.
Korins describes the venture as a combination of installation art, museum and gallery. "And fun house," adds Seller.
Seller declined to reveal the cost but confirmed it's on par with a Broadway musical, which can cost upward of $10 million.
Tickets -- about $35 for adults, $25 for children -- will go on sale at a later date.
"Hamilton" has already spawned a Grammy Award-winning cast album, PBS documentary, best-selling book, national tour and international productions. So what's next for the beloved musical's creatives? Hamilton action figures? Bobbleheads? A theme park, perhaps?
Sellers and Korins laughed at the suggestion, adding they've got plenty left to do before November's opening.
"We have a herculean task ahead of us that's going to be incredibly satisfying," Korins said.