For Student Travel Groups, Broadway is the Lights of American Musical History

For more than a century Broadway has been making musical theater come to life in New York City. There has never been a better time to engage the musical than now, and there is no better place for the musical than Broadway. Start the day with your student travel group in New York City in Lower Manhattan at The Theater Museum on 40 Worth Street: http://www.thetheatremuseum.org. See the history of the famous Playbills show time magazine, the history of the showboat and other exhibitions on display. Later the student tour group can head uptown for lunch and a show.

Currently there are many award-winning Broadway musicals around Times Square. The Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder not only won the 2014 Tony for Best Musical, but Darko Tresnjak won Best Director and Linda Cho won for Best Costume Design. This new musical is taking Broadway by storm. Set in England’s elegant Edwardian era, it shows just how low some will go to make it to the top. Latest news on the cast is available at this link: http://www.agentlemansguidebroadway.com.

Jessie Mueller won Best Actress in the 2014 Tony Awards for her leading role in BEAUTIFUL: The Carole King Musical. This musical is a story of true Americana, tracing the history of writer and singer Carole King, whose voice helped shape the sound of a generation. Mueller’s performance leaves the audience wanting more. Standing ovations after every show make it one of the best experiences today on the street of lights. For more details on the musical The Wall Street Journal calls “OUT OF CONTROL AMAZING!” please see this link: http://beautifulonbroadway.com

Disney has been bringing their magic to Broadway for over two decades. Aladdin is the latest hot ticket with the amazing James Monroe Iglehart winning a 2014 Tony for Best Actor. Aladdin brings the historic New Amsterdam Theater into a new century, with special effects and lighting that dazzle viewers. There is also the ongoing Lion King for the true Disney and Elton John fan. Few musicals have had a better selling soundtrack in history than The Lion King, which also won many awards for singing, acting, set design, writing and directing.

Les Miserables, the musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s famous novel is an ongoing classic at The Imperial Theater, continuing to wow and educate audiences from around the world with the epic tale of the French Revolution. Another longtime popular Broadway musical is now in its tenth anniversary on Broadway, and of course that means the musical WICKED. WICKED is a retelling of the classic American epic Wizard of Oz, a prequel to the original Wizard. This is the story of the Wicked Witch of the West and Glenda the Good Witch.
Another new musical getting attention is MATILDA. Based on the book by beloved children’s author Roald Dahl, Matilda is a precocious child equipped with psychic abilities and telekinetic powers that help her battle the wicked adults around her.

For fans of Frankie Valli, Jersey Boys is one more important musical on Broadway that is garnering a lot of attention. Jersey Boys is the true but classic story of rags to riches, tracing the American story of bestselling music sensation Frankie Valli and his band, The Four Seasons. Such chart topping songs as “Sherry,” “Rag Doll” and many others have become part of the American soundtrack.

Student tour groups visit New York City for a one of a kind experience at 42nd and Broadway, the place millions have journeyed to for more than a century to be entertained. Trip leaders, do not forget to take student groups on a visit to the Theater Museum and ask a travel professional to plan the trip around other art or historic museums in the city. To create an itinerary for a student trip to New York City, visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Smithsonian National Museum of African Art: New Eyes on the Old World

national-museum-african-artby Howard Clemens

Visit one of the most popular museums in Washington DC and provide for your students a window into the cradle of civilization. First Lady Michelle Obama recently said, “Learning through the arts reinforces critical academic skills . . . and provides students with the skills to creatively solve problems.”

Take student travel groups on docent-led tours of the permanent and visiting and traveling exhibitions, or let them hook into an audio device and tour on their own. The museum website has easy access forms to plan your visit for both tours and museum staff-led workshops. Specific tours – such as the Jambo tour – will be tailored to elementary, junior high or high school curricular needs.

Permanent Exhibits at the National Museum of African Art in D.C.
The National Museum of African Art is often missed by student groups visiting Washington D.C., yet it contains one of the most staggering collections of African art on display in the world. Touring the museum will complement many types of African studies in literature, the arts, politics, and more. This museum is an excellent way to incorporate diversity into any student tour of Washington D.C. and just about any curriculum.

Extensive African Photographs Available for Viewing by Student Groups
At the Museum, student travel groups will find over 350,000 items on display in the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, and that’s just one small portion of the Museum. Here students may also become familiar with the large number of African mosaics on display as well as rare sub-Saharan art on permanent loan from the Walt Disney-Tishman collection. In 2005 the Disney Foundation gave the museum 525 pieces of African art that includes a beautiful 19th century female figure carved from ivory. Since the 1960’s, this particular collection has greatly influenced the study of African art.

Artistic Dialogues Between African and African Diaspora in America
Also on display until January of 2016 is the Conversations exhibit where African art and artists are in conversation with African American art and artists. These contributions help celebrate the museum’s 50th anniversary, providing fruitful dialogue between Africa and the African diaspora. A few of the topics as part of the Conversations exhibit include “Spirituality, Power and Politics, Nature as Metaphor, and the popular Music and Urban Culture.”

Special Exhibitions
There is a special exhibition for the museum’s anniversary called “Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean.” The dance and music of the Omani people from East Africa are celebrated. The Al Najoom Dance Troupe is one of the most talented dance groups of Oman and they have been performing for over fifteen years, telling audiences the rich history of their culture through movement and sound. The dances they share are used for religious ceremony as well as everyday life.

Maya Angelou’s Legacy is Celebrated by Museum
The Smithsonian’s mission statement is, “To inspire conversations about the beauty, power, and diversity of African arts and culture worldwide.” The recent death of African American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou has been on the minds of museum curators and staff. Not long before her death the poet had a public conversation with the museum director Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole. You can view that conversation online at this link: http://youtu.be/e8S-mNq3ypg

Online Resources for Student Tour Leaders Preparing to Go to D.C.
Students and faculty can enjoy glimpses at the permanent collection and peek at upcoming traveling exhibitions online at this link: http://africa.si.edu. At the bottom right corner of the Home Page look for the “Radio Africa” link. Students can listen to this 24-hour radio program curated by the museum staff, sampling music from every corner of the African continent. Contact a student travel professional to arrange student group docent-led tours, or signup the class for workshops like the quilt collage workshop. There are also online galleries of student artwork made in the museum workshops or back at home in the classroom after returning from the museum tour.

The National Museum of African Art originally opened its doors with the help of Warren Robbins in June of 1964 in a townhouse that was the home of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Today it stands a world-class museum with visitors from every corner of the globe, helping place Africa at the center of conversation on the origins of humanity. On display until September, 2015 is a commemorative exhibition: Chief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria. These historic photographs did a marvelous job documenting the rituals and regalia of the court for more than fifty years, and provide a historical record of studio photography in West Africa. There has never been a better time to bring the class to the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.

For more information on creating a student travel itinerary of Washington D.C. that includes a visit to the National Museum of African Art, visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.