' Rare Books & Special Collections // Hesburgh Libraries // University of Notre Dame

University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Physical Exhibits in Special Collections

Rare Books and Special Collections regularly presents exhibits of materials from its holdings in our Exhibit Room (102 Hesburgh Library, at the west end of the 1st floor concourse) and on our Web site.

All exhibits are open to the public during regular business hours, generally 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday - Friday.

Special Traveling Exhibit: January 6-29, 2016

Logo for First Folio exhibit in RBSC

First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library

Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night. These celebrated plays and 15 others by Shakespeare might very well have been lost to us today without the First Folio, the first collected edition of William Shakespeare's plays.

In celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's legacy, the Folger Shakespeare Library is launching a national tour of the First Folio—the University of Notre Dame has been selected as Indiana's only host site. Thanks to a partnership forged between Shakespeare at Notre Dame, Hesburgh Libraries Rare Books and Special Collections, and the Robinson Community Learning Center, you'll have a rare opportunity to experience this historic and famous book first hand!

Housed in the Rare Books and Special Collections gallery of Notre Dame's Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame marks the official first stop of the First Folio national tour and exhibit, titled First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library. Only 233 copies exist of this first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays, and we are honored to be the first of only 52 sites to host this treasure from the world's largest Shakespeare collection.

Shakespeare at Notre Dame, along with faculty from the College of Arts and Letters, and members of the distinguished Shakespeare residency company Actors from the London Stage will also host lectures, performances, workshops, and special displays throughout the month of January to complement this momentous occasion.

We hope you will be among the first to join us in welcoming Shakespeare's First Folio to Notre Dame.

Plan Your Visit! ⇒ Exhibit Schedule

Learn More! ⇒ About the Exhibit

Road Trip! ⇒ Exhibit Locations

Spotlight Exhibit

Constructing Shakespeare

Detail of an etching showing Shakespeare watching a parade of characters from his plays.

January 2016

The posthumous First Folio printing of William Shakespeare's plays in 1623 represents a landmark development in the history of English drama, rescuing some of the bard's works that would have been lost forever. The earlier editions that do exist, however, differ markedly from the First Folio, and there is little evidence that Shakespeare oversaw their publication. What, then, is the "real" text?

The Shakespeare we know emerges from hundreds of years of this debate. Current holdings and recent acquisitions in Rare Books and Special Collections shed light on the discussion as it developed into the nineteenth century. Selections from the Second and Third Folio accompany printings by some of Shakespeare's earliest critical editors, including the famous poet Alexander Pope and the moral censor Thomas Bowdler.

This month's spotlight exhibit is curated by Daniel Johnson, English Literature and Digital Humanities Librarian, and accompanies the special traveling exhibit "First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library."


For information about previous spotlight exhibits, please refer to the History of Spotlight Exhibits page.

Upcoming Exhibits

Spring 2016

Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion

Suggest an Exhibit

Many of the exhibits presented by the Department of Special Collections are produced in collaboration with members of the Notre Dame teaching and research faculty and are scheduled to coincide with significant academic conferences at the University. If you have a suggestion for a future exhibit and/or would like to assist in producing one, please contact Special Collections at 631-0290 or by e-mail.