University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries and the Chazen Museum of Art to Host Shakespeare’s First Folio Exhibition in 2016

February 26, 2015

Folger Shakespeare Library Announces 52 Host Sites Across the Country for Traveling Exhibition to Mark the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s Death

Martin Droeshout. Shakespeare. Engraving, 1623. Images from the First Folio of Shakespeare Credit: Shakespeare First Folio, 1623. Folger Shakespeare Library.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has been selected as the host site for the state of Wisconsin for First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, a national traveling exhibition of the Shakespeare First Folio, one of the world’s most treasured books. The Folger Shakespeare Library, in partnership with Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, is touring a First Folio of Shakespeare in 2016 to all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico.

“The UW-Madison Libraries, along with the Chazen Museum of Art and our many partners across the state, are honored to welcome the First Folio to Wisconsin,” said Ed Van Gemert, Vice Provost for Libraries at UW-Madison. “We are thrilled to be able to share this part of the world’s cultural heritage with the people of Wisconsin, and with our students, faculty, and staff.”

The First Folio, published in 1623, is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, many of which were not published during his lifetime. Two of Shakespeare’s fellow actors compiled 36 of his plays to preserve them for future generations. Without their efforts, we may have never known 18 plays, including Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, The Comedy of Errors, and As You Like It.

“We are fortunate to be able to present the First Folio along with objects from the Chazen’s rich permanent collection to provide a broader context for visitors,” said Russell Panczenko, director of the Chazen Museum of Art.

Title page with Droeshout engraving of Shakespeare. Images from the First Folio of Shakespeare Credit: Shakespeare First Folio, 1623. Folger Shakespeare Library.

When displayed, the First Folio will be opened to the 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 exhibit exploring the significance of Shakespeare, then and now, with additional artifacts from various UW collections, as well as collections from around the state. Throughout 2016 UW-Madison, in coordination with its partners, is planning a variety of programs for the public.

“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,” said Michael Witmore, Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library. “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.”

Final touring dates for First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare will be announced in April 2015.

Hamlet in the First Folio IMAGE TK To Be or Not to Be from First Folio “To be or not to be” (Act III, scene 1) from the First Folio. Images from the First Folio of Shakespeare Credit: Shakespeare First Folio, 1623. Folger Shakespeare Library.
Hamlet in the First Folio IMAGE TK To Be or Not to Be from First Folio “To be or not to be” (Act III, scene 1)
from the First Folio. Images from the First Folio of Shakespeare Credit: Shakespeare First Folio, 1623. Folger Shakespeare Library.

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 the Google Inc. Charitable Giving Fund of Tides Foundation. 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; learn more at

The UW–Madison Libraries are as diverse as the campus itself and range in size from small reading rooms with a few hundred books to major research collections containing several million titles in multiple formats. Among the campus libraries’ holdings are rich resources for the study of Shakespeare’s work and its broader cultural impact, including an important copy of the Second Folio, published in 1632. We look forward to highlighting the UW-Madison collections as well as significant holdings in other UW System libraries.

The Chazen Museum of Art opened in 1970 as the Elvehjem Art Center to further the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s mission of education, research, and public service. The Chazen is home to the second-largest collection of art in Wisconsin: more than 20,000 works include paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, photographs, and decorative arts. The permanent collection covers diverse historical periods, cultures, and geographic locations, from ancient Greece, Western Europe, and the Soviet Empire, to Moghul India, eighteenth-century Japan, and modern Africa. The collection continues to grow thanks to artwork donations and purchases. The museum also presents frequent temporary exhibitions that highlight the collection or are borrowed from other museums or institutions, broadening the offerings to visitors. As a state educational resource, the Chazen offers tours, talks by artists and scholars, and other educational programs and outreach for schoolchildren, college students, and art lovers of all ages.

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—theatre, music, poetry, exhibits, lectures and family programs. Learn more at

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

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

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