Stay up to date on Metro’s tornado response and recovery efforts with our Storm Response Information page.

Stay up to date on Metro’s COVID-19 Coronavirus response.

Skip to Content

First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library at the Parthenon


NASHVILLE, TN ---Imagine a world without the immortal phrases, “Out, damn spot,” “Beware the ides of March,” and others. It almost happened! The First Folio, the book that saved many of William Shakespeare’s greatest plays from being forever lost, will be on view at the Parthenon beginning November 10th as part of an exhibition that brings one of the remaining copies of this important historic publication to the Parthenon as its exclusive Tennessee venue.

Many of Shakespeare's plays were written only to be performed and were not published during his lifetime. The First Folio came out in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death, and represents the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays. Two of Shakespeare’s fellow actors compiled 36 of his plays, hoping to preserve them for future generations. Eighteen of these plays would have been lost if not for the First Folio, including Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, The Comedy of Errors and As You Like It.

“We are thrilled to be Tennessee’s host site for Shakespeare’s First Folio Exhibition and to partner with other cultural and educational organizations, such as The Nashville Shakespeare Festival and the English-Speaking Union Nashville Branch, to offer supporting programs,” said Wesley Paine, director of The Parthenon.  “It is exciting to be a part of this tour that offers people throughout Middle Tennessee and beyond the rare opportunity to come within inches of one of the most influential books of all time.”
When the First Folio arrives in Nashville, Tennessee, its pages will be opened 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 interactive activities. During the exhibition, the Parthenon is pairing with community partners The Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Montgomery Bell Academy, and the Nashville Public Library, among others, to offer numerous programs for the public and families, including lectures, puppet shows, and performances.  A preview party will be held on November 9, 2016 at the Parthenon as a joint benefit for The Conservancy for the Parthenon and Centennial Park and The Nashville Shakespeare Festival.

Exhibition Support

First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and by the support of, Vinton and Sigrid Cerf, the British Council, and other generous donors.

First Folio! at the Parthenon is sponsored by Metro Parks, Montgomery Bell Academy, the English-Speaking Union Nashville Branch, and The Conservancy for the Parthenon and Centennial Park and with the support of our community partners the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Nashville Public Library, and the Nashville Public Library Foundation.