News & Politics

Folger Shakespeare Library’s Reopening Pushed Back to 2024

Closed since 2020 for a $80.5 million revamp, the Folger originally planned to reopen in November.

West entry Plaza of Folger Shakespeare Library. Renderings courtesy of KieranTimberlake/OLIN.

Folger Shakespeare Library announced it will be pushing back its reopening to 2024 despite marketing the completion of the $80.5 million renovation in April. The previously planned reopening date was November 17, 2023, and a new target will be set at the end of year.

“I believe it is in the best interest of our vision for the future of the Folger that we extend our renovation,” said Folger director Michael Witmore in a statement. “It’s difficult to make this decision, as we want to share this magnificent, accessible new version of the Folger with our community as soon as possible. But we must be good stewards to our collection and to the historic building in our care. Careful attention is needed at every stage of the work, and this requires more time.”

The Folger’s redesign was conceptualized in 2013, and construction began in March 2020. The building has been closed since. The revamped library will include two exhibition halls, the institution’s first permanent Shakespeare display, a cafe, and public gardens. 

The research library houses the largest collection of Shakespeare’s printed work with over 100,000 resources dating back to 1830. One of the planned new exhibits, First Folio, will feature 82 copies of Shakespeare plays that came out after the Bard’s death.

The extensive collection is one reason developers feel a need to get everything just right. According to the Folger, temperature and humidity in the new space play a large role in the shifting reopening timeline. “Controls in the spaces designed to house collection materials must demonstrate consistent performance over set periods of time,” the institution said in a press release. “Objects within the Folger’s collection cannot be returned to the building or installed in exhibition spaces until all testing is completed and verified.”

The Folger has and will continue to host programs either virtually or at local venues. According to Witmore, construction of the library’s theater area remains on track and will be ready sometime between this year and next. Specific details on that will be shared on the Folger’s website by the end of September.

Essence Wiley
Editorial Fellow