The rare first edition of Shakespeare’s plays are now on display in Vancouver.

An extremely rare book collecting some of The Bard’s finest works will be on display for a limited time at the Vancouver Art Gallery starting this weekend.

For all time: Shakespeare’s FIRST FOLIO is an exhibition opening on January 15 that celebrates the University of British Columbia Library’s recent acquisition of a complete first edition of William Shakespeare Comedies, stories and tragedies.

Published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death, the rare literary work is credited with preserving nearly half of Shakespeare’s plays.

Comedies, Stories and Tragedies by William Shakespeare, also known as the First Folio. (@ubcprez/Instagram)

UBC acquired the First Folio through Christie’s New York auction house with funding provided by a group of donors from across North America and support from the Department of Canadian Heritage. It once belonged to a private collector in the United States.

“The First Folio is a cornerstone of English literature, and with this donation we are able to ensure that this cultural treasure becomes public property,” said Katherine Kalsbeek, Head of Rare Books and Special Collections at the UBC Library, in a statement. “Adding a first folio to the UBC Library collection represents an important step in our development both as a library and as a university. “

Comedies, stories and tragedies, credited as the first folio, included 36 of Shakespeare’s 38 known plays and was edited by his close friends, fellow writers and actors. This is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays and the first printed appearance of some of his most iconic works, such as The Tempest, Macbeth, As You Like It, The Winter’s Tale and Julius Caesar.

“Preserving this treasured book in the UBC Library makes it accessible to future generations, inspires new knowledge, and strengthens our commitment to engage in world-class research in the arts and humanities,” said said Santa J. Ono, president and vice-chancellor of UBC, in a report.

UBC Library and Vancouver Art Gallery Partner to Exhibit Comedies, stories and tragedies as well as three later 17th-century Folio editions of Shakespeare’s plays. Through March 20, the exhibit is the first time all four Folios have been exhibited in Vancouver.

“We are thrilled to co-present and host this Folios capsule exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery,” said Anthony Kiendl, CEO of the Vancouver Art Gallery and Gallery Director, in a statement. “This project is part of the Gallery’s history of projects that explore the intersections of disciplines, media and popular culture; and places art within broader cultural contexts.

“The Gallery is a vital site in our community for us to come together, learn and discuss the ideas of our time – and Shakespeare’s work has sparked centuries of debate. It’s a unique opportunity to come together with our partners and create something none of us could do alone. “

For all time will feature a mobile audio guide narrated by Christopher Gaze, Founding Artistic Director of Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival. The Vancouver Art Gallery will also launch a three-part webinar series on William Shakespeare’s plays entitled Contemporary Shakespeare in collaboration with UBC and with Bard on the Beach.

For Dr. Patricia Badir, professor of English and head of the Department of English Language and Literature, UBC, having the First Folio in Vancouver on the unceded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh peoples is an opportunity to contemplate the work of Shakespeare in terms based on location.

“Having the book here will give us the opportunity to reflect on how Shakespeare’s works were agents of colonialism and will challenge us to think about how Shakespeare’s plays can help us think about local iterations of global issues of sexuality and gender, religious tolerance, politics and power, race and social justice, and even climate justice,” Badir said in a statement.

For all time: Shakespeare’s FIRST FOLIO

When: January 15 to March 20, 2022
Or: Vancouver Art Gallery – 750 Hornby Street, Vancouver
Tickets: In line

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