The Northeast has a variety of new developments happening in 2023
The Hagley Museum & Library in Wilmington recently opened its first new permanent exhibition in 65 years. The two-floor exhibit Nation of Inventors celebrates the American spirit of ingenuity by taking visitors on a journey from the early years of the patent system in the late 1700s all the way through to the late 1800s. Nearly 120 patent models will be on display in the first large-scale, permanent exhibition of patent models at any museum in the United States. The patent models will reflect important topics and themes including women inventors, African American inventors, immigrant inventors and improvements in urban living. (hagley.org)
District of Columbia
The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum just reopened half of its flagship building on the National Mall. The west wing has eight new and renovated exhibitions, the planetarium, a museum store and the new Mars Cafe. The museum has been undergoing a seven-year renovation that began in 2018 and includes redesigning all 23 exhibitions and presentation spaces, complete refacing of the exterior cladding and replacement of outdated mechanical systems. The east wing is closed while renovations continue. The museum’s multi-year renovation includes a new 50,000-square-foot learning center with ground-floor restaurant and third-floor terrace with views of the National Mall and U.S. Capitol, with construction starting in 2024. The Smithsonian is also looking into an outdoor astronomy park on the eastern edge of the site. (https://airandspace.si.edu/visit/museum-dc)
Expected to be installed in 2024, the centerpiece of the National World War I Memorial will be a bronze sculpture entitled A Soldier’s Journey by Sabin Howard. The immense frieze will tell the story of an American reluctantly answering the call to war. Across five scenes and 38 larger-than-life-size human figures, it will be nearly 60 feet long and 10 feet high. Located in Pershing Park in front of the Willard InterContinental Hotel, the massive sculpture will be the highest free-standing bronze sculpture in the Western hemisphere. The formal unveiling of the memorial, dedicated to the 4.7 million Americans who served in WWI, took place in April 2021. (nps.gov/wwim)
In celebration of the Kennedy Center’s 50th Anniversary, Arts and Ideals: President John F. Kennedy—a new permanent flagship exhibit exploring Kennedy’s presidency and commitment to the arts—was recently unveiled. The immersive, free-admission exhibit is housed in the roof-level JKF Gallery at the heart of the original Edward Durell Stone building. It includes archival video recordings of Kennedy’s landmark speeches, historic footage of musicians and jazz legends, photographs, letters and other memorabilia. (kennedy-center.org)
The 2023 playbill of Broadway and original musicals at Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Columbia, a group tour standby for more than 40 years, begins with Something Rotten!, set for January 20-March 19, 2023. It will be followed by Grease, March 24-June 11; Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville, June 16-August 20; Sister Act, August 25-November 5; and Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical, November 10-January 7, 2024. A Chorus Line (January 12-March 10) begins the 2024 season. The in-the-round theater offers buffet-style dining, and no seat is more than 30 feet from the stage. (tobysdinnertheatre.com)
Annapolis: An American Story is the new $1 million permanent exhibit at the Museum of Historic Annapolis. A film, artifacts and colorful exhibits share dramatic stories of Annapolis and its diverse people – revolutionaries, visionaries and champions in our nation’s continuing quest for liberty and justice – who helped shape American history over more than 400 years. Many of the places featured are a short walk from the museum, which is located near City Dock in the downtown Colonial Annapolis Historic District. (annapolis.org)
After being closed for 2½ years, the National Cryptologic Museum in Annapolis just unveiled all-new exhibits. The museum has worked in overdrive to create a reimagined experience of cryptologic history that includes a completely renovated building. Located adjacent to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) headquarters at Fort George G. Meade, it operates as NSA’s principal gateway to the public. (nsa.gov/museum)
Gloucester 400+ is a year-long celebration commemorating Gloucester’s founding in 1623. Throughout 2023, programs, activities and events will highlight the city’s maritime heritage, its contributions to art and culture, industrial achievements and wealth of natural resources. (gloucester400ma.org)
New for 2023, Collette Tours is offering a Spotlight on Boston itinerary. Groups can have a wicked good time exploring the capital city of Massachusetts and the surrounding towns, all overflowing with American history and character. Visit the places where the American Revolution took root and view must-see sites like the Old South Meeting House, Boston Common, and Beacon Hill. Venture out to Lexington & Concord, where the “shot heard ‘round the world” was fired and the fight for liberty began. Walk the grounds of Harvard University, guided by a student. Visit the presidential library of John F. Kennedy and learn about his illustrious career or take a photo adventure through picturesque neighborhoods. Boston is ready to charm you with cobblestone streets, historic brick buildings, thriving historic neighborhoods, art museums, shopping, and more. (gocollette.com/en/tours/north-america/usa/spotlight-on-boston)
New developments in Atlantic City never stop. Caesars Entertainment is investng $400 million into its three Atlantic City resorts, with enhancements to Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah’s Resort and Tropicana Atlantic City expected to be complete by 2023. Ocean Casino Resort announced a $75 million property reinvestment in 2022, and Ilitch Organization received regulatory approval to operate in Atlantic City. Bally’s Corporation is spending $100 million to upgrade Bally’s Atlantic City, which boasts 750 renovated hotel rooms, a redone hotel lobby and bar, and an indoor-outdoor entertainment venue. Hard Rock Atlantic City, meanwhile, is reinvesting a minimum of $20 million in capital improvements that include suite renovations, a new Starbucks, slots and table games, a new dining outlet and a refresh of beachfront amenities. Resorts Casino Hotel just renovated its rooftop pool, adding a retractable roof to enable it to be used year-round. Resorts is also investing $5 million into new table games and slot machines, remodeling its high-limit slots area and creating a new Asian-themed VIP room.
Showboat Hotel Atlantic City’s ISLAND waterpark is set to make a splash in 2023. (atlanticcitynj.com)
The new Jackie Robinson Museum in Lower Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood celebrates the life and career of the first African American to play Major League Baseball in the modern era. Besides spotlighting his accomplishments on the field, museum exhibits, bolstered by artifacts, videos and interactive experiences, focus on his achievements in the business world and role in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s. The exhibition Pop Culture Icon is a bold tribute to Robinson’s enduring impact on popular culture from 1947 to today, featuring magazine covers, comic books, movie posters and more. A short film recounts Robinson’s early family life. There is a classroom for student and youth groups. (jackierobinsonmuseum.org)
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown plans to open a new permanent exhibit on the Black baseball experience in April 2024. It will replace Ideals and Injustices, the Hall of Fame’s current exhibit about Black baseball, which originally was titled Pride and Passion when opened in 1997. The new exhibit will delve into topics such as the segregation faced by generations of ballplayers, challenges that persist in the game today and the success of the most recent generation of Black baseball players, coaches and executives. (baseballhall.org)
The venerable Buffalo museum formerly known as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery will reopen in 2023 as the Buffalo AKG Art Museum. Focus of the campus expansion is the Jeffrey E. Gundlach Building, a new work of signature architecture that will add more than 30,000 square feet of space for the display of special exhibitions and the museum’s world-renowned collection of modern and contemporary art. Renovation of current facilities, plus an interior community gathering space and a new public green space, are part of the project. (buffaloakg.org)
Using the latest technology, the brand new Museum of Broadway in Times Square offers a behind-the-curtain look at how a show is made and a timeline of Broadway that highlights theater pioneers, socially progressive moments and some of the most beloved plays and musicals of all time. Exhibits and immersive experiences will feature such shows as The Lion King, HAIR, Cabaret, Rent, The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Ziegfield Follies, Oklahoma! and The Phantom of the Opera, plus more than 500 other productions from the 1700s through the present (themuseumofbroadway.com)
Groups looking for new shows on Broadway will find plenty of choices in 2023. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest musical, Bad Cinderella, opens March 23 at the Imperial Theatre. A modern update on the classic fairy tale, it comes to Broadway following a run in London’s West End. Stephen Sondheim’s musical thriller Sweeney Todd, starring Josh Groban as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, returns to Broadway with a March 26 opening. Lerner & Lowe’s Camelot, reimagined for the 21st century, comes to life again, opening April 13 at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre. Summer, 1976, with previews starting April 4 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, is a story about two young women who navigate motherhood, ambition and intimacy as they help each other discover their own independence during the nation’s Bicentennial celebrations. In Good Night, Oscar, opening April 24 at the Belasco Theatre, Sean Hayes plays Oscar Levant, the Hollywood actor, concert pianist and most subversive wit ever to appear on television during its Golden Age. Also looking at spring 2023 openings are the musical New York, New York, loosely based on Martin Scorsese’s 1977 movie, and High Noon, based on the 1952 Academy Award-winning film starring Gary Cooper and the first Western play to premiere on Broadway in 85 years.
The Louis Armstrong House Museum will soon debut a new cultural center with an interactive, state-of-the-art exhibition, archival collections and a 75-seat performance venue, all dedicated to celebrating and preserving the life and legacy of jazz musician Louis Armstrong (1901-1970). His magnetic, five-decade-plus career is documented through thousands of objects including photographs, sheet music, recordings and correspondence. Located in the Corona neighborhood of Queens, the center will be across the street from the house once occupied by “Satchmo” and his wife, Lucille. Group tours are 40 minutes. (louisarmstronghouse.org)
The Hugh, a new food hall in Manhattan’s Midtown East neighborhood, offers 15 restaurants. Fare ranges from Thai dishes at Thank You Come Again to African superfood at Teranga to pizza at Public Display of Affection. Included are a craft beer taproom and wine bar. (thehughnyc.com)
Travelers can take one giant leap toward space exploration at Pittsburgh’s brand-new Moonshot Museum, Pennsylvania’s first space museum and the only museum in the world to focus exclusively on career and community readiness for the 21st century space industry. Located at the headquarters of space robotics company Astrobotic, the attraction provides hands-on, interactive encounters for space explorers of all ages. Through glass they will see a real lunar spacecraft being built and navigate an interconnected experience that puts them in charge of a simulated space mission. (moonshotmuseum.org). Also in Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Science Center just unveiled the permanent exhibition Mars: The Next Giant Leap, the most expansive new experience added since the museum opened in 1991. (carnegiesciencecenter.org)
Rolling out 400 cans of beer per minute, Pittsburgh Brewing Co.’s new stainless steel brewing facility in Creighton, an exciting new addition to the region’s craft beverage scene, offers brewery tours, a restaurant and a store onsite store, with a distillery in the works. (pittsburghbrewing.com)
Valley Forge National Historical Park in King of Prussia is welcoming visitors to its new museum exhibition in the recently renovated visitor center, which was originally dedicated in 1976. The exhibition tells the history of the 1777-1778 winter encampment of the Continental Army and how the citizens of Pennsylvania worked to preserve Valley Forge in the following decades. Accompanying Revolutionary War artifacts are new accessible display panels, a short film in the renovated theater, interactive videos and a complete audio walkthrough for visually impaired visitors. In summer, trolley tours from the visitor center feature major stops along the 10-mile driving loop, including the stone farmhouse used as Washington’s Headquarters and reconstructed log huts. (nps.gov/vafo)
The African American Museum of Bucks County, founded in 2014 as a mobile museum, has found a permanent home at Boone Farm in Langhorne and is expected to open in late 2022. Exhibits, on display in buildings erected in 1719 and 1850, feature artifacts and stories spotlighting the rich heritage of the African American experience in Bucks County and beyond. (infoaambc.org)
Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre in Lancaster, a favorite with groups touring Amish Country, kicks off its 2023 season with Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (January 20-February 18) and Sister Act (February 24-April 1). Next are Footloose: The Musical (April 7-May 20); Elvis: The Musical (May 26-June 24); Disney’s Newsies: The Broadway Musical, June 3-August 5; Guys and Dolls, August 11-September 16; Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville, September 22-November 11; and A Christmas Carol: The Musical, November 17-December 30. (dutchapple.com)
The world premiere of Disney100: The Exhibition, created for the 100-year celebration of The Walt Disney Company, opens February 23, 2023 at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. It will immerse guests in the stories that have been dazzling fans since 1923. The Walt Disney Archives opens its vault of treasures, showcasing hundreds of objects, including Disney’s “Crown Jewels” – more than 250 rarely-seen original artworks and artifacts, costumes and props, and other memorabilia. Exclusive to the exhibition, Disney has curated special behind-the-scenes glimpses into the creation of the most popular characters, films, shows and attractions – from Disneyland to Walt Disney World and beyond. The 10 themed galleries, through cutting-edge interactive installations, will take visitors on a journey through 100 years of Disney classics, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Strange World, as well as the latest members of the Disney family – Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel and National Geographic. Chicago and Kansas City are set as the next stops on the exhibition’s North American tour. (fi.edu/disney100)
In addition to numerous new and renovated accommodations throughout the state, there are plenty of new places to eat and drink popping up in 2022 and 2023. Kings Dominion debuted Virginia’s first 4D Spin coaster. A mixed-use entertainment epicenter, Capital One Center has arrived in Fairfax County. Harrisonburg has added a new African-American Heritage tour, Roots run Deep. The annual Rockin’ the Boardwalk returns to Virginia Beach October 3-6, 2023.
“Reign & Rebellion,” a special exhibition through September 5, 2023 at Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, will span the centuries across both museums and make connections between the past and our present, to illuminate how the Stuarts — and their legacies in Virginia — are closer than you think. Begin planning your 2023 Virginia itinerary by looking through the pages of the Virginia Group Tour Guide (leisuregrouptravel.com/virginia-group-tour-guide/)
The New River Gorge is now the 63rd national park and features whitewater rafting, miles of hiking trails and uncrowded mountain towns. Nine local chefs across the state will serve as the first-ever class of West Virginia chef ambassadors. The nation’s first statewide waterfall trail launched in June and has already had visitor check-ins from more than 41 states and 15 countries.
Main photo: Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
By Randy Mink