Live Design: What is the goal of this exhibit, and are there direct references to the musical?
Photo Courtesy of David Korins
David Korins: The ultimate goal of “Hamilton: The Exhibition” is to educate, delight, entertain, and go deeper and wider with the conversation that the show has started about Early America and its founding. The show had to take many artistic licenses and use a lot of compression in its storytelling in order to make a compelling two hour, 30 minute piece of theatre. With “The Exhibition,” we don’t have to jam the visitor's experience into a certain set time. Instead, the visitor gets to take as much time as they want and choose their own adventure while exploring the founding of Early America.
LD: What was your role, and how did you collaborate with the exhibit fabricators ID3?
DK: My role on “Hamilton: The Exhibition” is as creative director and designer. That means that not only was I in charge of the total visual world and physical landscape, but also really directed the lighting, sound, video, all of the tech integrations and informational integration. We engaged the services of historians to infuse our exhibition with real artifacts, recreation of artifacts, and with actual historically rigorous museum quality info panels and historically accurate audio guide. I worked with ID3 to oversee their entire fabrication shop for over two years creating the physical world of the production.
LD: How does the 360° concept work?
DK: We told ourselves from the very beginning that if we were going to attack this project, then we wanted to do it only in the most complete way possible. I had been to many exhibitions and exhibits and felt like the storytelling and the guest’s journey always ended the minute you looked up at the truss lighting rig and could see un-designed tops of the structures, so we really wanted to strive to make a fully immersive, complete, 360° environment with textured floors and accurate ceilings, etc. When you tell a story and you create an environment where you want to fully immerse someone into it, you want to completely let your eyes wander freely around the space and never break that envelope.
LD: What makes it "immersive"?
DK: I think what makes “Hamilton: The Exhibition” immersive is that the environments and storytelling presentation is so complete that once you are down the rabbit hole of our story you can look around freely and explore without ever feeling yourself in present-day, 2019 Chicago. We don’t let you off of the ride until you come up and out of the experience in the final Legacy Room. Once you’re in, you’re in.
LD: How does it bring Alexander Hamilton to life as a character?
DK: I like to think that we’ve taken a deeper look not only at Alexander Hamilton but the giants that collaborated with him to help found our country. By actually bringing to life the imperfect men and women that built our national foundation brings to life a deeper conversation about who we were then, who we are now, and who we hope to be as we move forward in the Great Experiment that is the United States of America.