Okay, for my X post, I’m cheating a little by using the X in Hamilton Exhibition to qualify 🙂
Yesterday, the Hamilton Exhibition opened at Northerly Island in Chicago, and my husband and I had tickets to attend. The ridiculous weather not included, it was really a fantastic exhibit! It was a really cool way to share information about the real Alexander Hamilton and help understand the influence he had on this country while springboarding off the popularity of the musical, which is not historically accurate (which should not be a surprise to anyone, as Lin-Manuel Miranda has never hidden the fact that he took some artistic license when he wrote the musical).
Not just about Hamilton himself. the exhibit also shares information about other people, including Eliza, the Schuylers, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson as well as information about the slave trade and the politics of the time. Parts of the exhibit are passive, where you read and look; parts are interactive or hands on, and there some that include video or animation. If you’ve been to the exhibit, I’m thinking about the Battle of Yorktown, which was probably the coolest part of the whole thing! It was part video, part demonstration and completely engrossing!
I also really enjoyed the room where it looked like a party at the Schuyler mansion and you can hear a little more about all the people who appear in the winter’s ball in the musical, including people like John Laurens and Marquis de Lafayette and even a slave girl who would have worked for a family like the Schuylers.
Lin-Manuel Miranda shared that he planted factoids throughout the exhibit where he took creative license when doing the musical so people could find them. I had a blast looking for them. I found 13; not sure how many he put there, but I Tweeted at him to see if I found them all! Maybe he’ll respond???
There’s a room at the end that is all about the duel between Hamilton and Burr which is kind of breathtaking. It includes a fascinating chart that explains that Hamilton lived for 32 hours after he left his house to go to the dueling ground to meet Burr, and Burr loved for 32 years after the duel. The wall-long chart chronicles Hamilton’s last 32 hours of life with Burr’s last 32 years of life in parallel fashion. It’s fascinating and sad and mesmerizing at the same time.
The final part of the exhibit is a room where those who attended are asked to share their own vision for America, being reminded about the legacy we leave and that “history has its eyes on you.” I did not leave a vision but rather took tome to read some that others left behind.
Alexander Hamilton had no control over who lives, who dies, who tells his story, but I will say that Lin-Manuel Miranda and the creative team did a pretty damn good job of telling Hamilton’s story!