One of world’s most famous books comes to the NMM and South Dakota

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

National Music Museum

Press information
For immediate release
Date issued: February 10, 2016
Contact: Patricia L. Bornhofen
Manager of Communications
National Music Museum
(605) 677-3971 

One of world’s most famous books comes to the NMM and South Dakota

(and with it, a series of Shakespeare-related events)


VERMILLION, S.D. (10 February 2016) – This March, one of the most valuable books in history — the Shakespeare First Folio — will arrive at the National Music Museum on the campus of the University of South Dakota, in Vermillion. The historic 17th-century volume will be on view March 7 - April 2, 2016, within a special multi-panel, interactive display. The Folger Library traveling exhibit, titled First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, will also ignite a series of Shakespeare-related events in the Vermillion community. Concerts, movies, lectures, and family events are planned. All will be free to the public — including admission to the National Music Museum itself during the 27 days of the First Folio exhibition at USD.

The First Folio is the first complete collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, published in 1623, seven years after the playwright’s death. Compiled by two of Shakespeare’s fellow actors, John Heminge and Henry Condell, the book preserves 36 of Shakespeare’s plays. Without it, we would not have 18 of those plays, including Macbeth and The Tempest.

One of the most valuable printed books in the world, a First Folio sold for $6.2 million in 2001 at Christie’s and another for $5.2 million in 2006 in London. It originally sold for one British pound (20 shillings) — about $200 today. There are 233 known copies in the world today, with 82 copies held by the Folger Shakespeare Library.

One site in each of the United States was chosen to host the Folger’s First Folio tour. The National Music Museum (NMM) at the University of South Dakota not only met the rigorous facility demands for displaying such a valuable and sensitive artifact but offered a rich cultural context. Adding its own unique angle on the Folio exhibit, the NMM will showcase some of its Shakespeare-era musical instruments, including the only English-made Renaissance cittern (c. 1579) known to survive.

As a musical prelude to the First Folio’s arrival, the National Music Museum will present two NMM Live! concerts with lute player Kenneth Bé, noon and 7:00 p.m. on Friday, February 26, in the Museum. Fittingly, Bé will play music of the Elizabethan era.

During the First Folio month, on Friday, March 18, at 7:00 p.m., audiences will have the chance to listen to the kind of music Shakespeare would have listened to, when the nationally acclaimed early-music group Ayreheart will headline a full concert in Farber Hall, in the Old Main Building of University of South Dakota. The quartet (vocals, two lutes, colascione, and percussion) featuring Grammy-nominated lute player Ronn McFarlane, will play music composed by Shakespeare-contemporaries John Dowland, William Byrd, and John Johnson. The free concert is sponsored by the University of South Dakota.

During that same weekend, Friday and Saturday, March 18 and 19, the University of South Dakota will host an open symposium titled Shakespeare in South Dakota. Focusing in part on Shakespeare and Native Americans in South Dakota, presentations will survey the teaching of Shakespeare in native schools, offer a discussion of translating Hamlet’s famed “To be or not to be” soliloquy into Lakota, and present recent research on nineteenth-century South Dakota productions of Shakespeare plays and early Shakespeare reading clubs.

Film lovers are also in for a treat: The National Music Museum will offer the opportunity to see the Oscar-winning 1998 Shakespeare in Love on the big screen, Saturday, March 19th, at 10:00 a.m, as part of its movie series at Vermillion’s Coyote Twin Theatre.

Family-friendly First Folio events are also planned at the Vermillion Public Library. Visit www.usd.edu/Shakespeare for further First Folio tour events and updates.

The Folger Library’s The First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare has been on tour since January 1, 2016, working its way through all 50 U.S states, as well as Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. The full list of host sites and tour dates is available at www.folger.edu/first-folio-tour).

First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor, and by the generous support of Google.org and Vinton and Sigrid Cerf. Learn more at www.folger.edu.

About the National Music Museum

The National Music Museum, located in Vermillion, South Dakota, on the campus of the University of South Dakota, is one of the world’s finest collection of musical instruments, with 15,000 items in holdings and 1,200 on public display. The NMM owns and exhibits some of the most historically significant musical instruments in existence. The National Music Museum Inc., was founded in 1973 and is a non-profit entity, in partnership with USD. More at www.nmmusd.org.

About the University of South Dakota

Founded in 1862, The University of South Dakota is designated as the only public liberal arts university in the state and is home to a comprehensive College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education, School of Health Sciences, the state's only School of Law, School of Medicine, the accredited Beacom School of Business and the College of Fine Arts. USD has an enrollment of more than 10,000 students taught by more than 400 faculty members. More information at www.usd.edu/press/news.

About Folger Shakespeare Library

Folger Shakespeare Library is a world-renowned center for scholarship, learning, culture, and the arts. It is home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection and a primary repository for rare materials from the early modern period (1500-1750). The Folger is an internationally recognized research library offering advanced scholarly programs in the humanities; an innovator in the preservation of rare materials; a national leader in how Shakespeare is taught in grades K–12; and an award-winning producer of cultural and arts programs—theatre, music, poetry, exhibits, lectures, and family programs. Learn more at www.folger.edu

Images of the Shakespeare First Folio, the National Music Museum, and/or University of South Dakota are available upon request.