For over a year, the Wyoming State Museum has been preparing to serve as the Wyoming host site for “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library.” That planning will soon come to an end as the exhibition will be in Cheyenne September 7-30, 2016.
This first-ever national tour of one of the world’s most influential books, Shakespeare’s First Folio, celebrates 400 years of Shakespeare and his legacy. The Wyoming State Museum is the only location in Wyoming for the “First Folio!” national tour, which includes exhibitions in all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico.
“We are incredibly honored to have been selected as one of the 52 institutions to help share this extraordinary piece of history from the Folger Shakespeare Library’s collection,” said Nathan Doerr, Curator of Education for the Wyoming State Museum. “For many people this will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to come within inches of one of the most influential books in history. In addition, it will provide us with a fantastic opportunity to deliver a variety of youth, adult, and family programs exploring Shakespeare and his works while the First Folio is here.”
Many of Shakespeare’s plays, which were written to be performed, were not published during his lifetime. Seven years after Shakespeare’s death, two of Shakespeare’s fellow actors compiled 36 of his plays hoping to preserve them for future generations. Published in 1623, The First Folio contained 18 of Shakespeare’s plays that were never printed before, including “Macbeth,” “Julius Caesar,” “Twelfth Night,” “The Tempest,” “Antony and Cleopatra,” “The Comedy of Errors,” and “As You Like It.” Without the First Folio all 18 would otherwise have been lost.
“The First Folio is the book that gave us Shakespeare. Between its covers we discover his most famous characters—Hamlet, Desdemona, Cordelia, Macbeth, Romeo, Juliet and hundreds of others—speaking words that continue to move and inspire us,” said Michael Witmore, Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library. “Shakespeare tells the human story like no one else. He connects us to each other, to our history, and to themes and ideas that touch us every day. We are delighted that we can share this precious resource with people everywhere, from San Diego, California, to Gurabo, Puerto Rico, from Eugene, Oregon, to Duluth, Minnesota.”
When the First Folio arrives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, its pages will be opened to the most quoted line from Shakespeare and one of the most quoted lines in the world, “to be or not to be” from “Hamlet.” Accompanying the rare book will be a multi-panel exhibition exploring the significance of Shakespeare, then and now. For the exhibition, the Wyoming State Museum and partnering organizations have planned numerous programs and events for the public and families around Shakespeare and the First Folio. Information about the exhibition and all of the events can be found online at http://wyomuseum.state.wy.us/
“First Folio!” has been organized by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, to commemorate the 400th anniversary in 2016 of Shakespeare’s death. It is produced in association with the American Library Association and the Cincinnati Museum Center. First Folio! 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, The Lord Browne of Madingley, Vinton and Sigrid Cerf, British Council, Stuart and Mimi Rose, Albert and Shirley Small, and other generous donors.
Programming in Wyoming is supported in part by a grant from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund, a program of the Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources. Additional funding has been provided by the Wyoming State Museum Volunteers, Inc., and the Bovee Family.
The Wyoming State Museum is located at 2301 Central Avenue in Cheyenne. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Admission is free.