Shakespeare first edition coming to Miami

FIU has been selected as the only site in Florida to host a first complete edition of William Shakespeare’s plays.

The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at FIU will display First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, a national traveling exhibition of Shakespeare’s First Folio, one of the world’s most treasured books. It will go on display next year, marking the 400th anniversary of the bard’s death.

“This is a dream come true. I’ve been teaching at FIU for 20 years and have yet to meet students, from elementary school to college, who weren’t pulled in and electrified by Shakespeare,” said James M. Sutton, professor and chairman of the Department of English.

Title page of the First Folio. Photo courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Title page with Droeshout engraving of Shakespeare. Credit: Shakespeare First Folio, 1623. Folger Shakespeare Library.

The folio is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays. It was published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death, by his colleagues hoping to preserve them for future generations. The collection saved 18 plays that had not previously appeared in print, including Antony and Cleopatra, As You Like It, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, The Comedy of Errors, The Tempest, and Twelfth Night.

The effort to bring the first folio to FIU was led by Sutton, along with Gayle Williams and Shawn Tonner from FIU Libraries,  and Klaudio Rodriguez from the Frost Art Museum. The university is coordinating a series of events around the exhibit including an opening celebration and educational programs for the FIU community, area schools and families. He believes there is still much to be gained from studying the words of one of the world’s most celebrated authors.

“These plays are 400 years old, yet they still speak to us about who we are, how we live, what it means to be human, what it means to love, what it means to struggle and what it means to die,” said Sutton, a Shakespeare and Renaissance expert.

The 500-square-foot traveling exhibit, which includes digital content and interactive activities, tells a two-part story. The first is about the book itself. The second is about Shakespeare’s plays and their significance.  When the First Folio arrives in Miami, its pages will be opened to the “to be or not to be” soliloquy from Hamlet — one of the most quoted selection of words ever written.

The exhibit is visiting a total of 52 sites across the United States. Exhibit dates for each site will be announced in the spring.

About the exhibit

The Folger Shakespeare Library, in collaboration with Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, is touring Shakespeare’s First Folio to all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare has been made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor, and by the support of and Vinton and Sigrid Cerf. Sponsorship opportunities of this major exhibition and the Folger’s other Wonder of Will programs commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death are available; learn more at