"We are honored to be chosen as a site to display and share Shakespeare's First Folio,” said Darlene Farabee, project director and chair of the USD Department of English. “It is a great chance for all of us in this region to be able to interact with this influential book from the Folger Shakespeare Library collection. We are very excited about our planned programming that addresses what Shakespeare means here in South Dakota.”

Many of Shakespeare's plays were not published during his lifetime. The First Folio is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays. It was published in 1623, seven years after his death. Two of Shakespeare’s fellow actors, John Heminge and Henry Condell, compiled 36 of his plays, hoping to preserve them for future generations. Without the Folio, we would not have 18 of Shakespeare’s plays, including Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, The Comedy of Errors, and As You Like It. All 18 appear for the first time in print in the First Folio.

The Folger Shakespeare Library holds 82 copies of the First Folio, by far the largest collection in the world and more than a third of the 233 known copies in the world today. It is believed that 750 copies were originally printed.

The Shakespeare First Folio is 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 for $5.2 million in 2006 in London. The book originally sold for one British pound (20 shillings)—about $200 today.

While in Vermillion, the First Folio will reside at the National Music Museum, on the University of South Dakota campus. Its pages will be opened to the most quoted line from Shakespeare and 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 exhibition exploring the significance of Shakespeare, then and now, with additional digital content and interactive activities. Says National Music Museum Director Cleveland Johnson, “We know from his plays that Shakespeare was a music lover. This folio will be right at home here, surrounded by equally rare musical instruments made and played in the Elizabethan era.” The University of South Dakota and the National Music Museum plan special Folio-related programming throughout the exhibition, open and free to the public.

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 Google.org and Vinton and Sigrid Cerf. 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 www.folger.edu.

About The National Music Museum

The National Music Museum, located at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, is the preeminent institution worldwide for the comprehensive study of musical instruments. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the NMM was founded in 1973 on the campus of the University of South Dakota. As a partnership between USD and the non-profit entity, National Music Museum Inc., the National Music Museum is home to the deepest and most distinguished collection of musical instruments in the nation. Both through bold purchases on the international market and through a network of donors from coast to coast, the NMM’s collections include many of the earliest, finest and most historically important musical instruments in existence.

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