The Wonder of Will: Building Partnerships

Celebrating 400 Years of Shakespeare

As we marked Shakespeare's anniversary, the Folger Shakespeare Library was pleased to form a wealth of new partnerships across the United States, internationally, and in our own city of Washington, DC. Our first partners, of course, were the supporters of The Wonder of Will: 400 Years of Shakespeare, which made possible many additional partnerships now and in the years ahead. Among the results are new digital resources, built together with other institutions, including Shakespeare's World. This resource helps to transcribe Folger manuscripts through crowdsourcing—repeating the same idea of partnership, but on an individual scale.


The Wonder of Will: 400 Years of Shakespeare programs were made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as support of the British Council,, iTunes, and a variety of other organizations and individuals. See a full list of our supporters.

International partners

Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford  |  British Library  |  The National Archives UK  |  Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
Shakespeare Documented

Partnering with the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford, the British Library, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and The National Archives UK, and 40 other contributing institutions, the Folger launched the online resource Shakespeare Documented, the largest and most authoritative collection of primary-source materials documenting Shakespeare’s life. Nearly 500 references, found in roughly 400 print and manuscript documents, provide a rich portrait of Shakespeare in his personal and professional spheres. See full list of partners.

Stile Antico

Folger Consort partnered in January 2016 with the renowned English vocal group Stile Antico to perform The Wonder of Will: Early and New Music Celebrating Shakespeare, featuring songs and dances from Shakespeare, along with music by contemporaries William Byrd and John Dowland.

Zooniverse  |  Oxford English Dictionary
Shakespeare’s World

In collaboration with Zooniverse and the Oxford English Dictionary, the Folger launched Shakespeare's World, a crowd-sourcing website for transcribing manuscripts from Shakespeare’s lifetime. In its first year alone, more than 2,500 registered contributors transcribed 91,000 lines of text on more than 3,000 pages. These transcriptions will eventually become available in a searchable database as part of the Early Modern Manuscripts Online project.

National partners

American Library Association  |  Cincinnati Museum Center  |  First Folio Tour host sites

As part of the national First Folio tour in 2016, the Folger built relationships with the 52 tour stops—23 museums, 20 universities, five public libraries, three historical societies, and a theater. A total of 500 partner organizations included theaters, schools, libraries, museums, musical groups, and state humanities councils. Learn more about the First Folio Tour and its 52 stops.

The Cincinnati Museum Center provided tour management and design expertise for the First Folios and accompanying exhibition materials at each tour stop. The American Library Association assisted the Folger in soliciting and reviewing hundreds of potential applicant sites.

Brooklyn Academy of Music  |  Royal Shakespeare Company
King and Country: Treasures from the Folger

The Folger partnered with Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in New York to present an exhibition to accompany the Royal Shakespeare Company’s King and Country: Shakespeare’s Great Cycle of Kings (Mar 24 – May 1, 2016), an epic cycle of Richard II, Henry IV Parts I & II, and Henry V. The exhibition enabled thousands of theatergoers at BAM to see rare Shakespeare quartos, promptbooks, and costume designs from the Folger collection.

C-SPAN2’s Book TV
The Wonder of Will LIVE

The Folger’s Wonder of Will LIVE event on April 23, 2016, was broadcast live around the world by C-SPAN’s Book TV, which also partnered with the Folger to promote the special anniversary event. More than 30 organizations, ranging from Simon & Schuster to public libraries, participated as co-hosts and shared information about the event with their audiences. The British Council was a key partner for the event, and the iTunes store, another partner, featured a special Shakespeare page that highlighted Folger e-books, the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast, and audio recordings of the plays.

The Wonder of Will

Apple re-designed the Shakespeare page on iTunes using The Wonder of Will brand, including a link to for visitors to learn more about the celebration of Shakespeare’s 400th. Folger books and podcasts were prominently featured on the page and promoted with themed banners throughout iTunes. iTunes also collaborated with the Folger to feature The Wonder of Will in three social media promotions: The Wonder of Will LIVE in April, a back-to-school collection of resources in the late summer, and a Shakespeare in film collection in conjunction with the opening of the Folger touring exhibition, America’s Shakespeare: The Bard Goes West, at the Los Angeles Public Library in mid-November. 

Library Foundation of Los Angeles
America's Shakespeare: The Bard Goes West

The Library Foundation of Los Angeles partnered with the Folger to present America’s Shakespeare: The Bard Goes West (Nov 17, 2016 – Feb 26, 2017) at the Los Angeles Public Library. This exhibition took the Folger exhibition America’s Shakespeare as its core and added items that highlighted Shakespeare’s legacy in California, from gold mining camps to the early film industry.

Measure + Dido

In September 2016, Folger Consort staged its world premiere of Measure + Dido for NapaShakes in California—at the Lincoln Theatre in Yountville and at the Green Music Center in Sonoma—before bringing it to the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. The production, which starred Derek Jacobi and Richard Clifford, recreated a Restoration-era production that combined Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure with Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas.

92nd Street Y

The Folger partnered with 92nd Street Y in New York on a social media project that, inspired by Shakespeare's linguistic inventions, invited people all over the world to share images of words they see every day—on billboards, inscriptions, graffiti, headlines, street signs, etc.

Theater Partnership Program

As part of our commitment to building greater connections to Shakespeare and the humanities, the Folger has developed a theater partnership program that stretches across the United States, from Utah to New York City, Alabama to Seattle. It launched as a pilot program in fall 2015 and has expanded to 41 partner theaters, reaching an audience of over 2 million ticket buyers. The program helps theater partners deepen relationships with their current members and audiences and inspire and engage new audiences by connecting them to the resources, programs, and collections of the Folger—and to the work of festivals, theaters, and organizations all over the country. Meet our Theater Partners.

Washington, DC partners

Capitol Riverfront
Bard in the Yard

The newly redeveloped district to the south of the Folger—called DC’s fastest growing neighborhood—partnered with Folger in outdoor screenings of classic Shakespeare films—Bard in the Yard (adjacent to the ballpark Camden Yards).

CrossTalk DC local partners

The Folger also partnered with DC Public Schools on CrossTalk: DC Reflects on Identity and Difference, a community engagement initiative funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, to host public conversations about race and religion, using The Merchant of Venice and a Folger-commissioned play called District Merchants to spark conversation. Other partner organizations included Allen Chapel AME Church, the Anacostia Community Museum, the District of Columbia Public Library, the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington, Metropolitan AME Church, and Trinity Washington University.

District of Columbia Public Schools

Folger Education partnered with DC Public Schools to provide intensive professional development for 115 teachers and establish a new Folger Romeo and Juliet curriculum for all ninth graders. DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson also shared her Shakespeare story for The Wonder of Will LIVE, the Folger’s celebration of the Shakespeare 400th anniversary on April 23, 2016.