News & Politics

3 Things to Know About the Revamped Folger Shakespeare Library

It’s coming back after shuttering in 2020.

Photograph of Folger by Lloyd Wolf

Folger Shakespeare Library –closed for renovations since March 2020–will finally reopen June 21. Here’s a preview of the revamp, which cost more than $80 million.

Why the Delay?

Because it was impossible to expand the property ouward–the adjacent Supreme Court obviously wasn’t for sale–the Folger had to excavate below to make room for two fancy new exhibition halls. The result is essentially a new, modern building hidden underneath the original 1932 structure.

Plays on Display

In the past, the library’s collection was primarily available for academic research rather than regular visitors. Now the public will have much greater access to its many Bard-related treasures. For the first time, all 82 of the library’s First Folios–the original published collection of Shakespeare’s work–will be on permanent view.

A Cafe on the Way

Lots of amenities have been added, including two new gardens, a gift shop, and a bar with a cafe (dubbed Quill & Crumb following a public naming contest).

This article appears in the June 2024 issue of Washingtonian.

Correction: A previous version of this article inaccurately reported that the Folger had added air conditioning to the theater. 

Arya Hodjat
Editorial Fellow