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Folger to Reopen June 21 With New Galleries, Café

The Folger Shakespeare Library announced Tuesday that its historic home on Capitol Hill will reopen on June 21, 2024.

It’s a long-awaited reopening of the iconic Hill ediface after a four-year, $80.5 million renovation.

The work has made historic building accessible to all. It’s also added the Adams Pavilion, a new wing with 12,000 square feet of public space. The expansion houses two new exhibition halls that will offer visitors opportunities to engage directly with the Folger’s world-class collection, including its 82 copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio which will be displayed together to the public for the first time.

Accessible garden entrances and visitor lobbies, a café, a new learning lab and collaborative research spaces and an expanded gift shop are among the visitor amenities and building enhancements added during the four-year construction project.

“Honestly, I really do think the story is, this is a place for everyone,” Folger Shakespeare Library Program Director Karen Ann Daniels told the Hill Rag last June. “More tours, more children, more everyone coming into the building.”

“When those doors swing open, this is for you —it’s not just for the few.”

Shakespeare Exhibition Hall, Folger Shakespeare Library, which reopens June 21, 2024. Photo by Lloyd Wolf.
Historic printing press reconstruction, Shakespeare Exhibition Hall, Folger Shakespeare Library, which reopens June 21, 2024. Photo by Lloyd Wolf.

The Folger Shakespeare Library closed for construction March 2, 2020 –just before the pandemic struck the District. The building was originally slated to reopen in November 2023. But that was delayed as the construction team worked on the integration of historic elements with new systems, said the historic library and museum.

The Folger’s renovation is the result of more than 10 years of planning to make the Folger a more inclusive, experiential, and welcoming space. Excavation work began in December 2020. In addition to the public space, café and galleries, the project also includes new collaborative research spaces, new Reading Room furnishings, HVAC and accessibility improvements in the theater, and updates to the collection storage system.

As a part of the renovation, three artists were commissioned to create works that reflect the Folger’s mission and offer visitors creative entry points through which to consider Shakespeare and the early modern world.

Included among these is a poem written by US Poet Laureate (1993-1995) and Pulitzer Prize-winner Rita Dove that is now inscribed upon the garden wall along the path that leads visitors down to the Folger’s new west entrance from East Capitol and 2nd St. SE. The poem beckons readers to “Clear your calendars. Pocket your notes.” And later, “step into a house where/the jumbled perfumes of our human potpourri/waft up from a single page.” The full text of the poem is now available to read on the Folger’s website.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, June 21 will kick off the reopening weekend activities. Visitors will have the opportunity to reserve timed-entry passes on the Folger website in advance of visiting the Folger to ensure members of the general public are able to enjoy all the Folger’s new amenities at the time of their choosing, though walk-in visitors will also be welcome. Timed-entry passes will be available in May.

Detailed information about the renovation project and planning a visit are available online at folger.edu.

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