Exhibition: "First Folio: The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare"

Location: Hesburgh Library

January 6–30

One of the world’s rarest and most treasured books, the First Folio is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays. It will be displayed in Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library during a nationwide traveling exhibition entitled “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare,” sponsored by the Folger Shakespeare Library in partnership with the Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association and hosted by Shakespeare at Notre Dame.

The exhibition, announced by the Folger Shakespeare Library on Thursday, April 23, Shakespeare’s 451st birthday, is one of numerous events planned worldwide for 2016, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

“We are honored to partner with the Hesburgh Library’s Rare Books Collection and the Folger Shakespeare Library in serving as the sole Indiana venue for the First Folio exhibition,” said Scott Jackson, executive director of Shakespeare at Notre Dame. “Our mission is to directly engage our audiences with the works of Shakespeare both on the page and on the stage. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to host the First Folio in a venue as iconic as Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library will provide the wider Michiana community with an entirely new way to experience one of the world’s greatest dramatists.”

When it was published in 1623, the First Folio could be purchased for 20 shillings, roughly $200 today. Since then it has become one of the most valuable printed books in the world; a First Folio sold for $6.2 million in 2001 at Christie’s and another one for $5.2 million in 2006 in London.

In the Notre Dame exhibition of the First Folio, the book’s pages will be opened to the most familiar of all Shakespearean lines, “to be or not to be” from Hamlet’s soliloquy. The exhibition will include digital and interactive features on Shakespeare’s life, times, and work, and several public events presented by Shakespeare at Notre Dame including the 2016 annual meeting of the Shakespeare Theatre Association (STA).

Exhibition Hours:
Monday-Friday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday: noon to 5 p.m.

Guided tours of the exhibit will be offered daily by Hesburgh librarians and curators at the following times (starting Thursday, January 7):
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 3:30 p.m.
Tuesday and Thursday at noon
Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tours will meet by the entrance to the Rare Books and Special Collections Department (Room 102), Hesburgh Library.

Reservations are not necessary. If you are planning to bring a group, please feel free to alert the Hesburgh staff directly about your visit: or 631-0290. Times are subject to change. Please consult the Hesburgh’s Rare Books and Special Collections website prior to your visit.

For more information, please visit