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UMD to display rare Shakespeare book

Krista Sue-Lo Twu, English department head at UMD, describes how Shakespeare's First Folio, a traveling exhibition of the first collection of Shakespeare's works, will come to Duluth. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com

The traveling display of a rare collection of Shakespeare's works secured by the University of Minnesota Duluth has an exhibition date — and a hashtag.

"First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare," featuring the first collected edition of the Bard's plays, will be on display at the Tweed Museum of Art Oct. 3-26, 2016, the university announced Thursday before a meeting with community groups that will likely coordinate Shakespeare-related events during its stay.

As for its social media presence: #firstfolioduluth.

"What do you know — we got it," Krista Sue-Lo Twu said to a group that included visual artists, museum heads and community theater personnel.

The national tour will include one stop in every state as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, and is in honor of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. UMD made its appeal to the Folger Shakespeare Library by assuring it would be kept in a safe, climate-controlled space at the museum and by adding 35 letters of support from community members ranging from Alan Sparhawk of Low to Mayor Don Ness.

If all goes according to plan, some of these same supporters will contribute pieces of Shakespeare-themed visual and theatrical art, as well as historical context.

"Thirty days of Shakespeare," Twu said. "Any day of the month in October there will be something you can do and see (having to do with) Shakespeare."

Kate Horvath and Jason Scorich of the Duluth Playhouse are in the early stages of putting together a bit of biographical theater.

"It's a loose story of how the Folio came to be printed," Horvath said.

The First Folio includes 36 plays, including 18 that had not been published before it was printed seven years after Shakespeare's death. During the exhibition, it will be opened to the "to be or not to be" page from "Hamlet." The Folger Shakespeare library has more than 80 copies of the First Folio, the largest collection in the world. In 2001, Paul Allen of Microsoft bought a copy at Christie's for more than $6 million, according to news reports.

The university announced in March that it had been selected to host the exhibition.

Matthew Rosendahl, director of the Kathryn A. Martin Library, credited the First Folio with giving people art, theater and a social life.

"It's the book that gave us Shakespeare," he said. "It's such a rare and valuable book that has impacted so much. To have the community and state celebrate it for a month — it's a lot."

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