News | June 28, 2024

Rare Shakespeare First Folio on Show in Tasmania for Mona’s New ‘Namedropping’ Exhibition

Mona/Charlotte Vignau

Shakespeare First Folio at Mona Tasmania

A rare copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio which was sold by London rare book dealer Peter Harrington last year has debuted at its new home as one of the highlights of the new Namedropping exhibition at the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) in Hobart, Tasmania.

The First Folio was acquired last year for the permanent collection of Mona, the avant-garde Australian museum that has previously been described by its owner David Walsh as “a subversive adult Disneyland”.

"It is really great to now see the copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio on public display at Mona and to read and hear about the palpable excitement of having the folio in Tasmania," said Pom Harrington, owner of Peter Harrington, who until now had kept the identity of the buyer under wraps. "The fact that Shakespeare's work transcends time and geography is something you almost take for granted in England, but when you stop to think about it, it is remarkable that a 17th century book preserving the works of an English playwright is still so revered centuries later, even in a far flung corner of the globe thousands of miles away from where Shakespeare was born."

Namedropping runs through April 21 2025 and focuses on the concept of status, status symbols, and their significance throughout human history. 

Luke Hortle, Mona’s Senior Writer, said: “What’s in a namedrop?’ wrote Shakespeare, more or less. Our Namedropping exhibition is about the nature of status, and why we like what we like, so we’re tremendously excited to include one of the most important, and desirable, books ever published. What makes Shakespeare’s First Folio so transcendently special, when it contains the same information readily available to us in mass-produced paperbacks of the plays? Part of the answer, we think, lies deep in our evolved biology.”

It is believed that this is only the second copy of the Folio to make its way to Australia as part of David Walsh's growing collection of rare books, manuscripts and bibliophilic paraphernalia.