Lonely Planet Writer

Hamilton exhibition to open this month at the New York Public Library

An exhibition on founding father Alexander Hamilton will open at the New York Public Library later this month. Interest in Hamilton has boomed in recent months on the back of the surprise success of the Broadway musical of the same name. The musical recounts the life of a man whose life among America’s founding fathers had previously fallen into obscurity. On 24 June, the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman building will launch a free exhibition devoted to the man behind the unlikely Broadway smash.

Portrait of Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull.
Portrait of Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull. Image by Wikimedia Commons

Alexander Hamilton: Striver, Statesman, Scoundrel explores the life of this orphaned immigrant from the Caribbean who rose to act as George Washington’s top aide during the American Revolution, create the American financial system, and become a key figure in America’s early political life. Other surviving aspects of his legacy include the US Coast Guard and the New York Post.

Interest in Hamilton has spiked after the success of the musical of the same name. In 2016, Hamilton received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a record 16 Tony nominations, winning 11 of them. Tickets start at US$250 and the show is booked solid until early 2017. The exhibition runs to the end of this year.

The exhibition will present Hamilton as a complex figure, part hero and part knave. “We’re eager to further the popular discussion of Hamilton and the early years of the United States by displaying historic materials that illuminate this complicated man and his era,” says exhibition curator Kailen Rogers. A feature of the exhibition is a letter to George Washington which would become part of the farewell address America’s first president would give the fledgling nation.

Letter to George Washington.
Letter to George Washington. Image by New York Public Library Digital Collection