One of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Costumes From Hamilton Is Going on Display at the Smithsonian

Along with an mid-19th-century portrait of Eliza Hamilton.
One of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Costumes From Hamilton Is Going on Display at the Smithsonian
Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton. Photos courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

When Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote “Who lives, who dies, and who tells your story?” for his Broadway musical, Hamilton, he didn’t know he was chronicling his own place in history. The hip-hop drama of Alexander Hamilton’s life was an instant hit when it opened in 2015, eventually winning 11 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize, among many other accolades. Now, Miranda’s story will be preserved at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, alongside one of his show’s characters.

A green suit with a white ruffled shirt and dress shoes worn by Miranda during the second half of Hamilton‘s original Broadway run will go on display in March for several months. Smithsonian employees have been looking to incorporate Hamilton into the museum since not long after the show opened.

“We were interested in [Hamilton] because it was such a phenomenon,” says Ryan Lintelman, who curates exhibits about entertainment. “It casts a light on this lesser known founding father, and we want to show how Hamilton has changed theater.”

Lintelman says this specific costume is perfect to talk about Alexander Hamilton and the show, as it’s worn in a scene with a rap battle between Hamilton and other cabinet members. Costume designer Paul Tazewell made it green to reflect Hamilton’s role as treasury secretary.

Also coming to the Smithsonian is a portrait of Eliza Hamilton, Alexander’s wife and one of the first female philanthropists in US history. Eliza is introduced to Hamilton audiences as one of Schuyler sisters before she and Alexander marry. A member of an affluent family in early America, she remains a prominent historical figure in her own right.

“It’s an incredibly important compelling story to tell about women’s role in philanthropy; how they got involved and the legacy they’ve left,” says Amanda Moniz, the museum’s curator of philanthropy.

The portrait, by Daniel Huntington, shows Eliza Hamilton in the mid-19th century, near the end of her life. It hung for years in the Orphan Asylum Society’s building in New York. The Greenwich Village orphanage that Eliza helped create in 1806 evolved over time into Graham Windham, a family and youth development organization in Brooklyn.

Hamilton cast members have been supportive of both Graham Windham and the new exhibit; Philippa Soo, the actress originated the Eliza character, created #TheElizaProject with castmate Morgan Marcell to raise funds for arts programs at the organization. Marcell screened her documentary on the project at the museum on Monday.

For Moniz, the ongoing legacy from the Hamilton’s is one worth honoring.

“Eliza Hamilton and her associates founded an organization that has endured all this time,” she says. “It really is incredible to me.”

Correction: This post originally misspelled Moniz’s last name. 

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Abbey joined Washingtonian in September 2017. A Miami University (Ohio, not Florida) alum, she called the Midwest home before moving to Vermont to report for the Burlington Free Press and to be closer to her one true love: Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Her work has also appeared in Cincinnati Magazine and USA Today. Abbey lives in Falls Church.