Our Shakespeare takes place from April 22 to September 3, 2016, and features items from around the world connected with the acclaimed playwright.
The exhibition will draw upon the Shakespeare Memorial Library – one of the world's greatest collections devoted to The Bard and held by the Library of Birmingham – along with spectacular loan items from the British Library and other institutions.
Exhibits include a colourful range of books, films, posters and photographs. Visitors will be able to explore the story of the man behind Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and numerous other plays. They will also be able to listen to recordings of the works of the Bard of Avon in their original pronunciation and see items owned by Laurence Olivier, Ellen Terry and other famous actors.
Exhibit: Our Shakespeare Curator Julian Harrison with an illustrated edition of Romeo and Juliet presented to the Shakespeare Memorial Library by a delegation from the Soviet Union in 1964.
Our Shakespeare will focus on four key themes:
• The Warwickshire Lad – taking its title from an 18th century poem, this section will include exhibits of local relevance that depict Shakespeare the man.
•The Shakespeare Library – telling the story of the library founded by the Our Shakespeare club in 1864, destroyed by fire in 1879 and restored with generous donations from around the world.
• Shakespeare's Genius – focusing on the plays and themes like ambition, love and magic, as illustrated in works such as Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and The Tempest.
• Shakespeare's Greatest Hits – including a copy of the First Folio, the first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays, published in 1623. It contains 36 of his plays and was published seven years after his death. There are just 234 known copies of the First Folio – one of which was recently discovered at a stately home on a Scottish island. News of the discovery of the book, which had languished in the library of Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute for more than 100 years, sparked interest across the world – with the Bard's First Folio trending on Twitter.
In the beginning: First Folio
Commenting on the First Folio, Our Shakespeare Curator Julian Harrison says: "Without it, we probably would never have been able to read - or even know about - plays including Macbeth, The Tempest, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar and Anthony and Cleopatra."
Explaining more about the exhibition, he adds: "This is a rare and exciting opportunity for people to experience first-hand artefacts, footage and audio that they won't have seen elsewhere. William Shakespeare is one of Warwickshire's most famous citizens and this exhibition extends Birmingham's record of staging innovative events in fantastic locations."
Venue: Julian Harrison outside the Library of Birmingham