Diane Nicoletti (STERN ’08) Helps Build Broadway’s Legacy and Future in NYC
January 15, 2024
Diane Nicoletti (STERN ’08) has brought to life the first-ever permanent museum dedicated to the place where the magic of the stage meets the heartbeat of New York City—the Museum of Broadway.
With deep storytelling roots, experiential marketing savvy, and a passion for Broadway, creative director, producer, and entrepreneur Diane Nicoletti (STERN ’08) [she/her/hers] recently brought to life the first-ever permanent museum dedicated to the place where the magic of the stage meets the heartbeat of New York City—the Museum of Broadway, an idea that took root during a conversation with college friend and co-founder, Julie Boardman.
Infused with a passion for spreading joy and an innate artistry in visual storytelling, while seamlessly blending in art and pop culture, the Museum of Broadway reflects the many talents, skills, and experiences that Diane embodies, offering visitors a unique and immersive experience that brings each Broadway tale to life. "We didn’t want just to display artifacts; we wanted to immerse guests into a scene, a set, and tell a story about the show around them," Diane shares.
In addition to the museum, Diane’s portfolio boasts an impressive array of projects. As the founder of Rubik Marketing, an award-winning experiential marketing agency, she has worked on several notable properties, including Game of Thrones, Deadpool, Frozen, and more. Diane has also helped curate iconic events such as the Game of Thrones Fan Experience, Gretzky’s Retirement Gala, and brand activations at the Super Bowl, Comic-Con, CES, and SXSW.
Read on to learn more about this visionary creator, her journey from NYU Stern to entrepreneurship, and get a glimpse into a career marked by creativity, innovation, and an enduring love for the Great White Way.
You’re a co-founder of the Museum of Broadway, which opened recently in New York City’s Times Square. Tell us about your involvement and the journey to bring ‘the first-ever permanent museum dedicated to the storied history and legendary artistry of Broadway musicals, plays, and the people who make them’ to life.
Julie Boardman, Museum of Broadway Co-Founder, and I have been friends since college (we both went to undergrad at USC) and worked together in experiential marketing. I would creatively produce events through my agency, Rubik Marketing, for clients such as HBO and Disney. At the time, Julie had a staffing company, Boardman Productions, so it was a natural professional pairing. One day, while we were out, Julie mentioned that there wasn’t a museum dedicated to Broadway, and I thought, “How could there not be? This is brilliant!” And soon after, we started mapping out on the whiteboard just what that experience could be and how we would approach it. For the first year, it was more fun, just playing and dreaming, but then we thought, “hey, maybe we should do this!”
We started by meeting with folks in the Broadway community (through Julie’s in-roads as a Broadway producer) to see if this was something that the community might want and would support. From there, we started talking to vendors, retail brokers, artists, architects, curators, and partners to make the dream a reality. It took five years and a wonderfully supportive team to create the Museum of Broadway. You can find the full team on the website, but we couldn’t have done it without the support of our great partners like Hematian Realty, Square Design, Alexander Wolf & Sons, PBA, JLL, Electrosonic, Elie Landau, Seth Bernstein, Stef Vidaic, Giulietta Tripoli, Ben West, Michael McDonald, Lisa Zinni, and so many more!
Broadway has such a rich history and is inextricably tied to New York City. What aspects of that do you personally find most fascinating?
Yes, 100%—Broadway and NYC are synonymous! Whenever friends and family come to visit, Broadway is always top of the list. Early on in our curatorial journey, we were fascinated by the history of the present-day “theater district” migrating from Manhattan’s financial district to Times Square. We thought this was so interesting that we dedicated the entry of the museum to provide a brief history of this evolution. We created our “map room,” which is dedicated to the theater owners, with a projection mapped to a cityscape, and provides the history of the theater district in a four-minute sizzle reel! Guests really love this as an entry point into the museum.
Do you have a personal favorite Broadway show or era, and how has your connection to Broadway influenced the work you do each day?
I grew up in Hershey, PA, but my parents went to NYC often for my dad’s work trips, and they’d come back with their Playbills, and I couldn’t wait until I could go. The first show they took my brother and me to was Phantom of the Opera—the set, the music, the chandelier! I fell in love instantly, and it really sparked my passion for Broadway… we would then go every year to see at least one show (if not more!), and then I got into theater at school. And, of course, I still love it today! I now take my kids (9, 7, 6, 3) to shows—I most recently took my nine and seven-year-old to SIX, and they already want to go back!
You earned your MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business and are the founder of an award-winning experiential marketing agency, Rubik Marketing. How did you become interested in visual storytelling?
I’ve always had a passion for using creativity as a form of expression—in high school, I would plan a variety of our fundraising events, from dance marathons to homecomings, and was part of the production team of our school musicals. After college, I got involved with events and fell in love with bringing a creative vision to experiences. Experiential marketing gave me a chance to learn about it more tactically—what materials to use, how to build a customer experience, and how to translate the story we needed to tell visually. The Museum of Broadway leans into visual storytelling. I think that is why people really get pleasantly surprised coming to the Museum of Broadway; it is fun for everyone and visually appealing for any age.
In an industry that is always evolving, how do you stay ahead of the curve? Are there any trends or innovations that excite you?
I love a good mood board, and whenever we are brainstorming ideas, I really utilize Pinterest, looking at my personal archive of photos as inspiration and thinking through the storytelling aspect of what we are trying to accomplish. I love seeing how a design and an interactive element can enhance the story—I don’t like to use tech just to use tech, but when it becomes addictive and amplifying, it can be really special. I follow so many fellow creatives, and it’s important to me to go see other museums, events, and concerts and keep up with fashion and art for inspiration.
What’s something you learned at NYU that set you on this trajectory?
My most influential teacher was Professor Galloway. He’s obviously brilliant, but how he shared his entrepreneurial journey and reminded us that marketing is just a tool—you need a great product first—was so impactful once I started my own entrepreneurial journeys. His lessons continue to be a great reminder every day.
What has surprised you most in your career?
Other people! I’ve learned some of the most unassuming people are the ones that are going to really knock your socks off.
Do you have a favorite project that you’ve worked on?
Well, not to be biased, but the Museum of Broadway! But also, one of my quirkiest projects was creating Ryan Reynolds’ ‘Believe in Your Selfie’ pop-up for Deadpool. We created about a dozen different rooms that were themed around characters from the film! We charred teddy bears, hung paratroopers, created giant dominos, and even created a silver disco ball pit!
As an entrepreneur, is there a lesson you wish you had known starting out?
It takes time. It is hard to be patient, we all want success immediately, but it takes time to grow.
Having tackled properties based on some of the most beloved shows and movies, how do you continue to find inspiration and new ways to bring these stories to life?
We have all existed in an environment where, at least in entertainment, it can be hard to find or create anything truly new. In many ways, it is a remix of something we’ve already seen or a story that has already been told, but it is important to remember we are all always evolving, and some of those stories will have a fresh outlook relevant to audiences today. I also really love partnerships, working with artists to help tell stories in new and engaging ways. Going outside of your industry and your comfort zone to keep it fresh is always helpful, too!
What are your resolutions, goals, or hopes for 2024?
To keep a balance of family and work life, while embarking on new projects. While working to expand the audience of The Museum of Broadway and grow our presence in the NYC community, this is something I continue to keep in mind. It is always important to keep challenging yourself to stay inspired and on-trend, but those life moments are precious and so imperative to creative inspiration and development.
Do you have a favorite NYU memory that you’d like to share?
NYU is such a special place being in the heart of NYC, I go by there a couple days a month with the fondest memories and love seeing the next generation of creatives coming through!