Historic literary moment! The first collection of Shakespeare’s plays is going on a 50-state tour

If you wanted to take a look at the first-ever printed editions of William Shakespeare’s collection of plays, you’d have to head to Washington D.C, run down a couple of flights of stairs, go through the fire door, get two guards to open a super heavy safe, go through another door, then another, and then go down an elevator. Or, you could just wait for one of those historic editions to come to your city. And this, lit lovers, is a thing that is actually happening in 2016. Needless to say, it’s a mighty big deal.

Kicking off this past Monday and running through January 2nd, 2017, Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C., is sending Shakespeare’s First Folio (the first printed collection of all of Shakespeare’s plays) out on a 50-state tour. This road trip is in honor of the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death.

The Folger Shakespeare Library is currently in possession of 82 of the 233 surviving copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio, which was printed seven years after the playwright’s death and contains every single one his plays.”If you had to pick one book to represent Shakespeare, this is it,” Folger director Michael Witmore explained to NPR.

On this important and historic tour, 18 of those collections are hitting the road, traveling six at a time starting in Norman, Oklahoma, and stopping in all 50 states, including Washington D.C and Puerto Rico. The exhibition features not just the iconic Folios themselves (open to the page that displays Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” speech), but also panels, public events, and activities depending on the venue.

Check here to see where this once-in-a-lifetime experience is headed to next, and when it will be in your state.

Related reading: 

How to make a “Shakespearean” milkshake, because that’s a thing

Stars turn pop songs into Shakespearean soliloquies. We die laughing.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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