Benton Museum to Display Shakespeare’s ‘First Folio’ in 2016

Title page from “First Folio” — the first collected edition of William Shakespeare’s plays published in 1623. (Courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library)

Title page from “First Folio” — the first collected edition of William Shakespeare’s plays published in 1623. (Courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library)

UConn has been selected as a host site for a national traveling exhibition in 2016 for “First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare.”

The “First Folio” is the first collected edition of William Shakespeare’s plays published in 1623 by two of his fellow actors, seven years after the Bard’s death. The collection includes 18 plays that would otherwise have been lost, including “Macbeth,” Julius Caesar,” “Twelfth Night,” “The Tempest,” “Antony and Cleopatra,” “The Comedy of Errors” and As You Like It.” The exhibition will take place in the Gilman Gallery at the William Benton Museum of Art in Storrs.

The tour is a partnership between The Folger Shakespeare Library, Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association and will be hosted by one institution in all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s passing. Specific dates for the tour host sites will be announced in April.

“As an institution with a strong history of championing the dramatic classics through our resident theater, Connecticut Repertory Theatre, we are very proud to have the opportunity to host this exhibition for our state,” says Brid Grant, dean of UConn’s School of Fine Arts. “This is an important document in the life of the arts and our students and wider community to experience here on campus.”

Adds Vincent Cardinal, head of the Department of Dramatic Arts and artistic director of CRT: “Connecting the living and breathing work we do in our studios and on our stages to this first collected publication of Shakespeare’s plays will be an unforgettable opportunity for our students, faculty, staff and audiences.”

Earlier this year, UConn joined the Folger Consortium, a collaborative endeavor of the Folger Shakespeare Library and more than 40 universities in the U.S. and abroad, with each member institution contributing to projects that no one of them can accomplish alone.

Brendan Kane, associate director of UConn’s Humanities Institute and an associate professor of history, who serves as the faculty representative to the Folger Consortium, says, “UConn is an ideal host for the First Folio exhibition given its diverse and vibrant community of Renaissance and Reformation scholars. Hosting the tour strengthens scholarly links with the Folger and also demonstrates the University’s ongoing commitment to public humanities and scholarly outreach.”

During the month-long run of the exhibition, UConn will also present a variety of related academic and cultural programming in its venues such as the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, libraries and lecture halls. In addition, Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network will provide media coverage of the “First Folio” exhibition to increase awareness and access to the exhibit.

Grant noted the work of Lindsay Cummings, assistant professor in the Department of Dramatic Arts, and Matthew J. Pugliese, managing director of CRT, who led the effort in collaborating with Nancy Stula, director of the Benton Museum, in preparing UConn’s successful proposal to host the exhibition.

By: Kenneth Best | Courtesy of UConn Today

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