Rare Shakespeare First Folio to visit all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico in 2016

Sarah Ostman
Communications Manager
sostman@ala.org

Washington, D.C. — The Folger Shakespeare Library, in partnership with the American Library Association (ALA) and Cincinnati Museum Center, has announced the tour sites for its 2016 national traveling exhibition of First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare. The exhibition will tour the original 1623 First Folio of Shakespeare to all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. The locations include 23 museums, 20 universities, five public libraries, three historical societies and a theater.

The list of sites can be viewed at http://www.ala.org/programming/firstfoliosites.

The First Folio, the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, was published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death. John Heminge and Henry Condell, two of Shakespeare’s fellow actors, compiled 36 of his plays, hoping to preserve them for future generations. Many of Shakespeare's plays, which were written to be performed, were not published during his lifetime. Without the First Folio, 18 of Shakespeare’s plays — including "Macbeth," "Julius Caesar," "Twelfth Night," "The Tempest," "Antony and Cleopatra," "The Comedy of Errors" and "As You Like It" — would have been lost.

The Folger Shakespeare Library holds 82 copies of the First Folio, the largest collection in the world and more than a third of the world’s 233 known copies. Researchers believe that about 750 copies were originally printed. One of the world’s most valuable printed books, a First Folio sold for $6.2 million in 2001 at Christie’s and another one for $5.2 million in 2006 in London. It originally sold for one British pound (20 shillings) — about $200 today.

The Folger, with ALA and the Cincinnati Museum Center, reviewed hundreds of potential applicant sites to host the First Folio before making the final selection. All were required to meet specific environmental and security requirements.

For the First Folio! tour, the rare book will be opened to one of the most quoted lines in the world, “to be or not to be” from "Hamlet." A multi-panel exhibition exploring the significance of Shakespeare, then and now, with additional digital content and interactive activities, will accompany the First Folio. Each of the 52 tour locations will plan programs for the public and families around the exhibition. 

The tour begins in January 2016 at three sites, each of which will host the exhibition for four weeks. A total of 18 First Folios will be on display during the tour; six will travel at any one time. The final Shakespeare First Folio will return to the Folger in December 2016. The local touring dates for First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare will be announced in April 2015.

The Cincinnati Museum Center exhibits department is providing tour management and design expertise in building and preparing for travel the panels that will accompany the First Folios at each stop, as well as designing and constructing traveling cases for the 18 First Folios. Staff from Cincinnati Museum Center will also accompany the First Folios on each step of their national journey to coordinate and facilitate the transportation, installation and de-installation of the exhibition at each stop of the tour.

The national tour of the Shakespeare First Folio is part of the Folger’s Wonder of Will initiative in 2016 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor, and by the generous support of Google.org and Vinton and Sigrid Cerf. Sponsorship opportunities of this major exhibition are available.

About Folger Shakespeare Library

Folger Shakespeare Library is a world-renowned center for scholarship, learning, culture and the arts. It is home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection and a primary repository for rare materials from the early modern period (1500-1750). The Folger is an internationally recognized research library offering advanced scholarly programs in the humanities; an innovator in the preservation of rare materials; a national leader in how Shakespeare is taught in grades K–12; and an award-winning producer of cultural and arts programs — theater, music, poetry, exhibitions, lectures and family programs. Learn more at www.folger.edu  

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 58,000 members in academic, public, school, government and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

ALA’s Public Programs Office provides leadership, resources, training and networking opportunities that help thousands of librarians nationwide develop and host cultural programs for adult, young adult and family audiences. The mission of the ALA Public Programs Office is to promote cultural programming as an essential part of library service in all types of libraries. Projects include book and film discussion series, literary and cultural programs featuring authors and artists, professional development opportunities and traveling exhibitions. School, public, academic and special libraries nationwide benefit from the office’s programming initiatives. Additional information can be found at www.ala.org/programming.

About Cincinnati Museum Center

Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) at Union Terminal is a nationally recognized institution and national historic landmark. Dedicated to sparking community dialogue, insight and inspiration, CMC was awarded the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and received accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums in 2012. CMC is one of only 16 museums in the nation with both of these honors, making it a unique asset and a vital community resource. Union Terminal has been voted the nation's 45th most important building by the American Institute of Architects. Organizations within CMC include the Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children's Museum, Museum of Natural History & Science, Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater and Cincinnati History Library & Archives. Recognized by Forbes Traveler Magazine as the 17th most visited museum in the country, CMC welcomes more than one million visitors annually. For more information, visit www.cincymuseum.org

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at www.neh.gov

ALA Public Programs Office
312-280-5061