One of the most valuable books in the world, the first compilation of plays by William Shakespeare will be on exhibit June 7 at the University of Central Arkansas. The school is partnering with the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre to host the exhibit, entitled First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare. UCA is the only location in the state to display the nationally-touring First Folio.
The First Folio, compiled in 1623, is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays. Of the 750 estimated copies of the first edition, only 200 are accounted for. One copy from this edition sold for $6.2 million in 2001.
UCA Spokeswoman Christina Muñoz Madsen says the university is honored to display such an important Shakespeare exhibit.
“The fact that we were chosen is just incredible. It speaks volumes about our programs and our Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre. It’s just been an incredible opportunity that we can offer this kind of history on the UCA campus,” says Madsen.
The exhibit is presented by the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Cincinnati Museum Center, and the American Library Association. It will visit one location in all 50 states and two U.S. territories.
UCA was selected as Arkansas’s exhibit site after completing what Madsen calls a very thorough process.
“This was actually an extensive process that began more than two years ago," says Madsen. “We had to really prove why it would be a good fit here. There’s a lot that goes in to it with regards to security, environmental factors, humidity has to be just right, lighting has to be just right. We were very excited to find out that we were going to get it.”
In addition to the exhibit, the University of Central Arkansas will be hosting a series of family-friendly programs that are free and open to the public through July 12th.
Along with the First Folio display, the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre will be celebrating its 10th anniversary season this summer. The season opens June 10th and will feature performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, West Side Story, Romeo and Juliet, and Twelfth Night.
The First Folio exhibit is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and support from Google and Vinton and Sigrid Cerf.
For more information about the First Folio and Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, visit arkshakes.com.