The State Historical Society of North Dakota, recently named North Dakota’s host for the “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare,” on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library, is pleased to announce that the First Folio exhibition will be open to the public July 6-31 at the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum.
“The State Historical Society of North Dakota is excited to announce that the public can now plan to experience firsthand the wonder and rareness of the First Folio,” said Erik Holland, curator of education with the State Historical Society. “From Shakespeare aficionados to students studying the Bard’s plays for the first time, this exhibit is a rare opportunity for people in North Dakota to experience one of the most influential books in history.”
“First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare” is touring all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico in 2016. A full list of host sites and tour dates is available at folger.edu. The First Folio will be opened to the most quoted line from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,”— “to be or not to be.” A multi-panel exhibition exploring Shakespeare’s impact, then and now, will be accompanied by digital content and interactive activities.
The State Historical Society, in partnership with Capitol Shakespeare, will also offer programs in Bismarck throughout the month including a chamber music group, a children’s Renaissance faire, a teacher workshop, performances of “Much Ado About Nothing,” and more. A full schedule of programs can be found at history.nd.gov/shakespeare.
The First Folio is the first complete collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, published in 1623 seven years after his death. Compiled by two of Shakespeare’s fellow actors, it preserves 36 of Shakespeare’s plays. Without it, we would not have 18 of those plays, including “Macbeth,” “Julius Caesar,” “Twelfth Night,” “The Tempest,” and “Antony and Cleopatra.” Thanks to the First Folio, generations have experienced Shakespeare’s lasting influence on language, culture, theater, music, education, and more. There are 235 known copies in the world today, with 82 copies held by the Folger Shakespeare Library.
One of the most valuable printed books in the world, 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.
“At the Folger Shakespeare Library, we’re looking forward to taking the books out of our vaults in 2016 and on the road,” said Michael Witmore, director. “We’re excited to see the many different ways that communities across the country will be celebrating Shakespeare—in performances, poetry slams, lectures, and more.”
“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 support of Google.org, Vinton and Sigrid Cerf, the British Council, Stuart and Mimi Rose, and other generous donors.
Admission to this exhibit and rest of the State Museum is free, seven days a week. The North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information visit history.nd.gov/shakespeare.
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