|The programing partners for First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare|
|Krista Sue-Lo Twu and Matthew Rosendahl announcing the dates and details of the First Folio exhibition|
A year ago they were gathered around a table wondering if it might work. Krista Sue-Lo Twu, associate professor and head of the English department, and Kathryn A. Martin Library Director Matthew Rosendahl were meeting with Tweed Museum Director Ken Bloom about the feasibility of bringing First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare to UMD. "We went round and round for about an hour and at the end Ken said, 'OK, let's have a party,'" remembers Matt.
That party started today at the very first gathering of programming partners. People from arts organizations sat next to educators with the shared goal of hosting corresponding programs that will bolster the exhibition. Together, they comprise a book club of unprecedented significance.
Velcro-like collaborations started to happen even before introductions were complete. A book binder connected with an English professor while a Chemical Engineering professor reminded the group about the importance of adding Art to STEM, "You've heard the term STEAM?" Liz Hill asked the group.
Duluth's exhibition is part of a national effort. The Folger Shakespeare Library, in partnership with Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, is touring a First Folio of Shakespeare in 2016 to all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico thanks to funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. UMD was selected as Minnesota's host site in February after Krista and Matt led the effort to get the First Folio to Duluth, with Ken agreeing to host the exhibit in the Tweed Museum of Art.
What set Duluth's application apart from its Twin Cities rivals is, in large part, the enthusiasm in the Zenith City. Krista and Matt canvassed organizations for programming partners and produced 35 letters of support, everyone from Duluth Mayor Don Ness to Alan Sparhawk of the indie rock band Low. "It was the breadth and depth of community engagement, brought together with the vibrant academic programs in the humanities and arts at UMD, that made our application stand out," says Krista.
Matt was moved by having many of these creative and educational partners gathered for the first time today, saying he was struck by the support embedded in one room. Krista called the convergence symbolic, "This demonstrates how the city of Duluth places a very high value on literature, history, and the arts; the important role that UMD plays as a leader in literary and cultural activities and education; and the strength of the academic humanities and arts programs at UMD that inform this leadership."
When it's at the Tweed in October 2016, the folio will be open to the most quoted line from Shakespeare and one of the most quoted lines in the world, “to be or not to be” from Hamlet. Accompanying the rare book will be a multi-panel exhibition exploring the significance of Shakespeare, then and now, with additional digital content and interactive activities.
Story by Lori C. Melton, July 2015
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