Shakespeare's First Folio: "Such Stuff as Dreams are Made on"

Thousands of visitors have made their way to the Kansas City Public Library to revel in a rare copy of Shakespeare's First Folio, which is on display in the downtown Central Library through June 28.

Shakespeare scholars, students, and everyday library patrons have enjoyed seeing this 393-year-old piece of history in the Library's Missouri Valley Room, some traveling across the state and country and even from Canada. One family has driven three times from Topeka, Kansas, to Kansas City to attend events in conjunction with the Folio, and wrote in the guest book that all "plan to come again" for programming that extends into July.

Another visitor from Leawood, Kansas, expressed thanks to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., for making the Folio available through the special traveling exhibit, writing, "I may not get to the Folger so this was a treat."

The exhibit has been a wonderful opportunity for many teachers from the Kansas City area and beyond. "Fabulous!! An English teacher's dream!" wrote one from Florida. Another from Kansas City shared that sentiment. "As an English teacher, I was so excited and impressed to see this gem in my city," she said.

A teacher from St. Louis traveled with her husband and son for Family Day activities on June 12. They made it a day of Shakespeare fun, stopping along the way at Shakespeare's Pizza in Columbia before seeing the First Folio. They also paused for a photo (Twitter).

Tina Packer, the author of Women of Will: Following the Feminine in Shakespeare's Plays, talked about her book on June 13, and made sure before her presentation to see the First Folio. She had great things to say about the exhibit. "I've been in several of the towns/cities where you [The Folger Shakespeare Library] have sent the First Folio," she wrote. "I loved all the sites, but I think this is my favorite surrounded by (the Missouri Valley Room's extensive collection of books about) Civil Rights, local history, and Civil War."

She added that "the young docents were terrific!"

While the Folger Shakespeare Library is placing copies of the Folio on display around the country—choosing a single site in each state to serve as host—Kansas City's docent program is believed to be unique. More than a dozen University of Missouri-Kansas City students prepared for their duties by taking a semester-long, for-credit class arranged by Joan FitzPatrick Dean, UMKC's Curators' Professor of English.

By Amy Strassner, Library intern