First Folio! The Book that Gave us Shakespeare

Rachael Longo and Carey Cahoon in a theatre KAPOW production.  theatre KAPOW will perform at First Folio Late Night on April 21.  Photo by Matthew Lomanno.

Imagine a world without the immortal phrases “To be, or not to be,” “Beware the Ides of March” and “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.”  

 It almost happened! The book that saved many of William Shakespeare’s greatest plays from being forever lost will be on view from April 9 to May 1 at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester. The First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare exhibition and supporting programs are made possible in part by a grant from New Hampshire Humanities. This will be the only opportunity to see the First Folio in New Hampshire or the greater Boston area during its current tour.

In addition to a rare copy of Shakepeare’s First Folio, the exhibition will include a multi-panel display exploring Shakespeare’s significance in his lifetime and in the 400 years since his death; objects from the Currier’s European collection that relate to themes in Shakespeare’s work; and a series of public programs developed in conjunction with several community partners.

From March 16 to May 13 the Currier will offer an exhibition on Shakespeare’s Potions featuring 16th and 17th century original texts Shakespeare may have used as sources for his recipes and references from the museum’s library. 

The Currier will host Shakespeare Family Day on Saturday, April 9 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Stop by to make your own folio and then stay for a family-friendly Shakespeare theater performance by Advice to the Players titled Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World. 

On Sunday, April 10 at 2 p.m. UMass Lowell Professor Kevin Petersen and UNH Professor Susanne Paterson will offer an ART Talk about Shakespeare’s enduring place in American culture, with special emphasis on popular culture and film, followed by a Collection Connections focus tour of the museum. 

Stay up late with the Currier for a First Folio Late Night on Thursday, April 21 from 6 to 9 p.m. Landis K. Magnuson, Saint Anselm College, will discuss the First Folio as a historical document and a living text; theatre KAPOW will perform scenes from Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream; the Manchester Community Music School will provide live music; and docents will lead tours of the exhibition.

On Saturday, April 23 at 11:30 a.m. the Currier will celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday with a tour of the First Folio and Shakespeare’s Potions exhibitions. 

The First Folio exhibition and all the associated programs are free and open to all. If you’d like to view the rest of the Currier’s amazing collection during your visit, there is an admission fee. 

The Currier is open Sunday, Monday,  and Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The museum is closed on Tuesdays.  

Learn more on the Currier Museum of Art website.