Unexpected Shakespeare Is The Best Shakespeare

So, this weekend is Parents’ Weekend at my daughter’s college. “Want to go see a Shakespeare exhibit with me while you’re here?” she asks. I’m intrigued, but there are rules in this family, I’m not allowed to hijack the agenda for Shakespeare. “My teacher was one of the curators, and we all have to go check it out for my class and write a paper about it.” Oh, it’s for homework? I’m so in!

Off we head to the Pequot Library in Connecticut. Ready for what we saw?

The collection, like many this year, was a celebration of 400 years of the Folio. So there were many cards describing the difference between the editions and which plays were added as they came out. A pleasant surprise was the amount of space dedicated to Charles and Mary Lamb’s work, which is one of the ways I introduced my kids to Shakespeare. I’m not honestly sure of the connection between the Lambs and the Folio, but hey, I wasn’t part of the curating.

Two things I especially loved about this one. First, this small library really decorated with Shakespeare. While we were in the exhibit room, one of the ladies at the desk came to tell us that there was an additional room that we shouldn’t miss. This turned out to be mostly illustrations from later collections behind glass, so I didn’t get any good pictures. But I appreciate her making sure we didn’t miss it. There was also a Hamlet on display right by the entrance that she called out as well. I definitely hadn’t missed that one.

Also, check this out. As we walked in the door I saw a brochure for a local Shakes-Beer fest, which unfortunately I won’t be in town for. But then check this out!

They went ahead and gave him his own little display, shot glasses included!

Second, and I think I love this most of all … the exhibit blended seamlessly with the children’s section of the library.

On the wall is that very well-known “Phrases Today That We Owe To Shakespeare” poster, done up on a very nice and colorful canvas. The shelf is covered with children’s books about Shakespeare (some I have, many I don’t!) Across the top are paper dolls of Shakespeare’s characters. I imagine a family coming into the exhibit for the adults and older kids to see Shakespeare, and sometimes they’re going to have younger kids in tow. Those kids are going to be bored, right? It’s over their heads? It’s boring? Wrong! Genius idea. More exhibits should do this.

Very happy that we stopped by. There was definitely a lot of cool stuff to look at. There were some other patrons wandering around, so of course, my daughter and I had to have some fun. I mentioned that we were looking at a Fourth Folio, and she asked, “Which one did we see?”

“You guys have seen …” I paused to count … “I think 5 First Folios? I’m only now realizing that I should have kept a better count. That’s a fun bucket list item, to see as many as you can. You definitely saw Folio #1 when we were down in the Folger Vault.”

“I think I tried to touch it,” my son said.

“No, you tried to touch a different one that they had out on the counter,” I told him. “Folio #1 was special, we had to ask to see that.” Alas, none of the little old ladies seemed interested in our humble bragging. Honestly, I think they were annoyed that we were there and taking up space. They’re probably used to having the place 90% empty. I don’t care. If there’s an opportunity to talk about Shakespeare, I’m going to take it.

3 thoughts on “Unexpected Shakespeare Is The Best Shakespeare

  1. The handwriting says “Isaiah 36.” That’s the chapter where the Assyrians came down like a wolf on the fold (and his cohorts were gleaming with purple and gold).


  2. Hello Cita! Welcome to the blog. I’ll admit that you’ve got me wondering — are you associated with the library and/or the exhibit in some way? It’s an odd coincidence to get your comment on a random post like this, particularly given your credentials. I’m kind of wondering if you were there that day and I walked right past you.

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