The new year marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, and his famous works are going on tour to commemorate it. The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., has begun circulating 18 of its copies of the bard's First Folio, a collection of 36 Shakespeare plays printed in 1623, NPR reported. The First Folio debuted Monday in Norman, Oklahoma; Eugene, Oregon; and Notre Dame, Indiana; but will eventually reach all 50 states.
"We’re looking forward to taking the books out of our vaults in 2016 and on the road,” director Michael Witmore said in an April news release. “We’re excited to see the many different ways that communities across the country will be celebrating Shakespeare — in performances, poetry slams, lectures, family celebrations, and more.”
The traveling exhibition, called "First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare," will make roughly three-week-long stops at 23 museums, 20 universities and five libraries, among other locations. Six copies of the First Folio will be out at any given time, and they'll be accompanied by interactive activities to teach visitors facts about Shakespeare's life, according to the news release.
The Folger Shakespeare Library has more than 80 copies of the First Folio, which at the time included 18 plays that hadn't been printed. Among them were "Macbeth," and "Julius Caesar," NPR reported.
Joyce Coleman, a medieval literature professor at the University of Oklahoma, called the First Folio she saw last week "a world treasure." She told the Oklahoman that “so much energy seemed to be flowing out of that one book."
The Folger Shakespeare Library wasn't the only institution gearing up for the anniversary of Shakespeare's April 23, 1616, death. The British Council recently announced the "Shakespeare Lives" global program in 140 countries that includes activities like a massive open online course and series of essays about the playwright, various performances, webinars teaching old English and hip-hop interpretations of his works.