The Folger’s Future

Folger Shakespeare Library

Concept design of the First Folio gallery, courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library

The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., recently announced a major expansion project, adding a 12,000-square-foot public pavilion under the Folger’s lawn and updating other spaces. The 1932 building, designed by Paul Philippe Cret, will begin renovation next year in order to “expand public space, improve accessibility, and enhance the experience for all who come to the Folger,” according to its website. The proposed Shakespeare Exhibition Hall, a new permanent installation devoted to the Bard, will include a First Folio gallery that features the library’s signature collection of all of the First Folios collected by the Folgers. The project is expected to take two years.

Folger architectural drawing
Paul Cret's study for the front of the library, c. 1929. Courtesy of the Folger Archives.

But as the Folger looks ahead, it is also taking a backward glance. The library’s current exhibition, A Monument to Shakespeare: The Architecture of the Folger Shakespeare Library, focuses on its founding — and its founders, Henry and Emily Folger. Some of the spotlighted items include Cret’s detailed architectural drawings of the “Tudor-deco” structure and the Folgers’ correspondence with various power brokers as they built a home for the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare-related books, manuscripts, art, and artifacts.  

The exhibit remains on view through January 5, 2020.