UM to Host Shakespeare’s First Folio Exhibition in 2016

February 27, 2015

Shakespeare Engraving by Martin Droeshout, 1623MISSOULA – The University of Montana has been selected as Montana’s host site for “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare,” a national traveling exhibition of one of the world’s most treasured books – the Shakespeare First Folio.

The Folger Shakespeare Library, in partnership with Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, is touring the exhibition to all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico in 2016. Final touring dates will be announced in April.

“Each state will host a copy of the folio, and I am proud that we get to represent Montana,” said Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library Associate Professor Julie Biando Edwards. “We have a wonderful campus and community partnerships. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Montana, and I am so pleased to be a part of it.”

The Mansfield Library and Montana Museum of Art & Culture submitted the application to bring the First Folio to campus, and will partner to make it a valuable experience for the community. While the library will lead organizing and implementing numerous programs for University students, adults, children, teachers and families, the MMAC will display the folio and other related panels in their galleries, support the environmental and security requirements and provide public access free of charge. The museum also will curate a related exhibit, extending its hours to accommodate as many visitors as possible.

“Exhibiting the Shakespeare First Folio is a high honor,” MMAC Director Barbara Koostra said. “MMAC is delighted to partner with the Mansfield Library to bring this rare object to the University of Montana campus and the region, and we hope it inspires everyone.”

Many of Shakespeare’s plays, which were written to be performed, were not published during his lifetime. The First Folio is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays. It was published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death. Two of Shakespeare’s fellow actors compiled 36 of his plays, hoping to preserve them for future generations. Without it, we would not have 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.”

When the First Folio arrives in Missoula, its pages will be opened to Shakespeare’s most quoted line: “To be or not to be.” Those words were written in “Hamlet.” Accompanying the rare book will be a multi-panel exhibition exploring the significance of Shakespeare, then and now, with additional digital content and interactive activities.

The Folger Shakespeare Library holds 82 copies of the First Folio, by far the largest collection in the world and more than a third of the 233 known copies. It is believed that 750 copies originally were printed.

The Folger Library is a world-renowned center for scholarship, learning, culture and the arts. It is a primary repository for rare materials from the years 1500-1750. The library 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, exhibits, lectures and family programs. Learn more at http://www.folger.edu.

“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 Vinton and Sigrid Cerf and Google.org. Sponsorship opportunities of this major exhibition and the Folger’s other “Wonder of Will” programs commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death are available. Visit http://www.folger.edu for more information. 

Partners in the Missoula community include Montana Public Radio, Missoula Children’s Theatre, Children’s Museum Missoula, Montana Association of Teachers of English Language Arts, Missoula Writing Collaborative and Humanities Montana.

Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal is a nationally recognized institution and national historic landmark. For more information visit http://www.cincymuseum.org. 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. Additional information can be found online at http://www.ala.org/programming. 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 is available at http://www.neh.gov.

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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, exhibits, lectures and family programs. Learn more at http://www.folger.edu.

About Cincinnati Museum Center

Cincinnati Museum Center 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 http://www.cincymuseum.org

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 ALA 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 http://www.ala.org/programming.

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 http://www.neh.gov.

Contact: Julie Biando Edwards, associate professor, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, 406-243-4505, julie.edwards@umontana.edu; Barbara Koostra, director, Montana Museum of Art & Culture, 406-243-2019, barbara.koostra@mso.umt.edu; Brandon Reintjes, curator of art, MMAC, 406-243-2019, brandon.reintjes@umontana.edu.