NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY TO WELCOME SHAKESPEARE’S FIRST FOLIO
JUNE 7 – JULY 17, 2016
New York, NY, April 26, 2016 – This summer, the New-York Historical Society will be the only cultural institution in New York State to host the national tour of the First Folio, an original edition of William Shakespeare’s first published collection of plays. Joining the extensive international events taking place in 2016 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, New-York Historical has partnered with The Public Theater and the 92nd Street Y to produce a series of exciting events and conversations related to the world of William Shakespeare to celebrate this landmark work. The installation will also feature rare books and documents from New-York Historical’s Library collection.
First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library is a national traveling exhibition of one of the world’s most treasured books. Organized by the Folger Shakespeare Library, in association with Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, the tour will encompass all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
“Shakespeare’s eloquent language has helped shaped generations of America’s greatest thinkers, particularly Abraham Lincoln, who cited the Bard as his favorite author,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “As an institution dedicated to the study of American history told through the prism of New York, we’re honored that the New-York Historical Society will be the sole venue in New York State for visitors to experience the First Folio for themselves. Working with our partners―The Public Theater and the 92nd Street Y―we hope to offer a deeper understanding of Shakespeare, his influence on American history, and a keen awareness of the evolution of his work from the First Folio to contemporary interpretations.”
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, published in 1623, seven years after his death. Two of Shakespeare’s fellow actors compiled 36 of his plays, hoping to preserve them for future generations. Without it, the public would not have 18 of these plays, including Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, The Comedy of Errors, and As You Like It. All 18 appeared for the first time in print in the First Folio and would otherwise have been lost.
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 234 known copies in the world today. It is believed that 750 copies were originally printed.
When the First Folio is displayed at the New-York Historical Society, 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. The First Folio exhibition at New-York Historical will be supplemented with historical documents pertaining to the performance of Shakespeare in New York.
Public Programs at the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society will present several public programs that will examine Shakespeare’s influence on historical figures and modern leaders. Throughout his adult life, Abraham Lincoln read and committed to memory the plays of William Shakespeare. On June 2, Lincoln’s Shakespeare will feature renowned actors of today performing the soliloquies Lincoln loved best and recited most often while narrator Harold Holzer, one of the country’s leading authorities on Lincoln, sheds light on the 16th President’s long and sometimes fraught relationship with the Bard.
On June 26, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Folger Shakespeare Library Director and award-winning Shakespearean scholar Michael Witmore, and special guest actors from The Public Theater will discuss the influence of Shakespeare and the women in his works on their own lives in Heroes and Heroines: Women in Shakespeare and Lessons for Today’s Leaders.
In this special program on June 11, Folios Inside Out: The Book Behind the Cover, kids ages 8 and up (along with their grown-ups) will go behind the scenes to New-York Historical’s on-site conservation lab, examine a 400-year-old book, and see historical documents in various stages of treatment, from the restoration of tears to the resewing of books. After the lab visit, families will create and sew their own basic folio to take home.
Throughout the afternoon on June 11, Shakespeare’s plays will come to life with the Frog & Peach Theatre Company as they perform a scene from the First Folio and answer questions about continuing the tradition of acting Shakespeare. Visitors of all ages will hear the meaning of some of Shakespeare’s original text translated into everyday words, see swords and other timeless props up close, and learn how actors safely perform stage combat.
On June 13, New York City public school students will join New-York Historical and Theatre for a New Audience educators to perform Shakespearean sonnets, scenes, and soliloquies in this interactive workshop for students. The workshop will be led by a Teaching Artist from Theatre for a New Audience along with a soliloquy performance by renowned actor John Douglas Thompson, who will also observe some of the students’ performances and offer acting tips. Visitors to the Museum are welcome to attend. There will be two ninety minute programs, one at 10 am with elementary and middle school students, and one at 11:30 am with high school students.
Shakespeare at 400 with The Public Theater and 92Y
The celebration continues in Central Park for one of New York’s most beloved traditions, The Public’s free Shakespeare in the Park under the stars at the Delacorte Theater, beginning in May, as well as other affordable Bard programming at Astor Place and the Delacorte Theater.
In June, the 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center will host a series of classes led by James Shapiro, leading participants through the pair of plays—The Taming of the Shrew and Troilus and Cressida—that The Public Theater will stage in Central Park. The classes will offer insights into the language, style, and performance histories of these plays, with the goal of preparing theatergoers to get the most out of seeing these productions.
Support for the exhibition
First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library 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, and other generous donors. Learn more at www.folger.edu.
About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s pre-eminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research, presenting history and art exhibitions, and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical is the oldest museum in New York City. New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered political, cultural, and social history of New York City and State and the nation, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history. For more information, visit www.nyhistory.org.
About Folger Shakespeare Library
Folger Shakespeare Library is the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the ultimate resource for exploring Shakespeare and his world. The Folger welcomes millions of visitors online and in person. We provide unparalleled access to a huge array of resources, from original sources to modern interpretations. With the Folger, you can experience the power of performance, the wonder of exhibitions, and the excitement of pathbreaking research. We offer the opportunity to see and even work with early modern sources, driving discovery and transforming education for students of all ages. Shakespeare belongs to you. His world is vast. Come explore. Join us online, on the road, or in Washington, DC. Learn more at www.folger.edu.
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 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 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.
Photo credit: Shakespeare First Folio, 1623. Folger Shakespeare Library. Title page with Droeshout engraving of Shakespeare.