MADISON, Wis. — A piece of literary history is on display at the Chazen Museum of Art on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

In 1623, the collection of Shakespeare’s plays was published for the first time. Today, just under 300 copies of what is now called the First Folio, remain in existence — and the Chazen Museum now has one on display.

“Tours started filling up right away. Actually we got our first call about a year ago for a group that wanted to tour, so there’s been an awful lot of traffic coming through to see the folio and we love it when the museum is full,” museum editor Kirstin Pires said.

The Folger Library in Washington, D.C. lent the Folio to the Chazen in honor of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and organizations around Madison are putting on special events to celebrate. Memorial Library is displaying their special collection books from the time of Shakespeare, which includes science volumes, maps and later editions of the Folio.

“Shakespeare actually has a lot of references to bees and honey in the plays and the sonnets and the writing. So we have a whole case of bee related things from our bee related collection because you don’t get to trot those out every day,” Susan Barribeau, a literary collections curator at Memorial Library, said.

The Chazen Museum is also partnering with the Madison Shakespeare Company to put on special performances in the museum’s theater.

“Chazen has been very supportive in letting their people, their sort of regular museum-goers know about the events coming up. I feel very confident that will be exposing Madison Shakespeare Company’s work to a broader audience,” Jason Compton with the Madison Shakespeare Company said.

The exhibition will be open until December 11.


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