Our family recently enjoyed a very cool and inspiring evening out at the new Hamilton exhibition in the city! My daughters are both huge fans of the Hamilton musical, so this was the perfect way to relive some of that experience, but in a more educational and interactive setting. Whether or not you’ve seen the musical, this is a neat, historical experience the whole family can enjoy while learning about Alexander Hamilton’s roots and life’s work, as well as our country’s creation.
Review of Hamilton: the Exhibition
A new orchestral arrangement of popular songs from the musical underscores the entire experience. The musical’s star and creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, narrates much of the tour. My girls were delighted to hear the music and listen to Lin-Manuel’s voice. It brought back so much of the joy they felt when first seeing the Hamilton musical!
From the moment we entered, the incredible artifacts made us feel like we were truly there. At the very beginning of the tour, we were taken back to the early years of Alexander Hamilton’s life in St. Croix. We journeyed through a room that felt as though it has been turned upside down and covered in debris, depicting the hurricane that drove Hamilton to America.
From here, we were led down a plank to a replica of the streets of New York, where Hamilton landed. We continued on to George Washington’s war tent, where we viewed a virtual reenactment of the Battle of Yorktown. All of it made us feel as though we were immersed in our country’s history, stepping back in time during some of the most important and pivotal years.
One of the most magical areas of the exhibit was the imaginary winter’s ball within the Schuyler mansion, an event that occurred shortly before the marriage of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler. My girls particularly enjoyed this part, which was inspired by “The Story of Tonight” musical number, a favorite scene in the Hamilton musical. The room was beautifully lit and filled with ornate gold statues of the many highly-esteemed guests of the ball.
The visual beauty of the exhibit on its own is really special, but an interactive element always helps when there are kids involved. We were not disappointed there! My girls enjoyed playing a Plinko-style game representing the economic depression. They had fun dropping a coin at the top with hopes of beating the odds during these historically tough financial times, imagining the days when Hamilton established a national bank.
As we neared the end of the exhibition, we came across the duel between Hamilton and Aaron Burr — a chilling image of this fatal encounter. The timeline amidst the backdrop of the duel compares how the final moments of life between these two played out, Hamilton living for 32 hours, and Burr living for 32 more years afterwards.
A final highlight that we thought was a really nice touch was a wall where visitors could add their own wishes for our country’s future on a post-it note. It was heartwarming to see all the words of peace and kindness, and I enjoyed participating in such a sweet activity with my kids. We ended our journey by watching the opening number of the musical in 3D — an exciting and perfect way to end an amazing tour!
Parking and Pricing for Hamilton: The Exhibition
Located on Northerly Island, we were able to park easily at the Adler Planetarium lot for $13. There is a well-marked tent there to pick up a free trolley, a quick and fun ride to the exhibition. Admission is $39.50 for adults and $25.00 for children ages 4-14. It’s best to buy tickets online in advance. Find more information on hours, transportation and ticketing here.
Chicago is the first city to host the Hamilton Exhibition, and I would definitely recommend seeing it while it’s here!