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Folger Exhibitions
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Very Like a Whale

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Very Like a Whale

October 16, 2012–January 6, 2013

Monday through Saturday, 10am to 5pm
Sunday, Noon to 5pm


Free admission


Rosamond Purcell and Michael Witmore, curators


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Very Like a Whale takes its name from Hamlet's quickly changing descriptions of a cloud's shape as a camel, a weasel, and, finally, a whale—claims that are met each time with hearty agreement from Polonius.


Jointly curated by Folger Director Michael Witmore and photographer Rosamond Purcell, the exhibition explores the richness and variety of Shakespeare's visual language through Purcell's photographs and a wealth of rare books, manuscripts, prints, and natural objects. Along the way, it presents a sprawling landscape of ideas and images, from mirrors, magic, and optical illusions to uncanny animals, twists of fate, and the ugly transformations of war.

Meet the Curators
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Curators' Insights
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Audio Tour
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Just for Kids
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Related Publication
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Related Programs
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Image Gallery
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