Shakespeare’s First Folio, Coming to a City Near You!


The Folger has 82 First Folios—the largest collection in the world. It’s located several stairways down, in a rare manuscript vault. To reach them, you first have to get through a fire door … (if a fire did threaten these priceless objects, it would be extinguished not with water—never water near priceless paper—but with a system that removes oxygen from the room).

A massive safe door comes next—so heavy it takes two burly guards to open it, and then yet another door, which triggers a bell to alert librarians that someone has entered. After that, there’s yet another door and an elevator waaaay down to a vault that nearly spans the length of a city block, says Folger director Michael Witmore.

Surprisingly, this is not an excerpt from a movie starring Nicholas Cage, but the description of a real system in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. NPR relays how the treasured First Folio is prepping for a nationwide tour.

Mary Allen is a writer working, crafting, and making bad puns in the San Francisco Bay Area. More from this author →