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Experience and learn

In our exhibition galleries, get up close with the incredible books, manuscripts, art, and objects that make up the world’s largest Shakespeare collection. Learn about Shakespeare’s life, the world in which he lived, his plays, and the many ways people have engaged with his language, characters, and stories over the past four centuries. And it’s not just about Shakespeare. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re interested in history, literature, theater, art, or rare books.

Hands-on activities

With lots of interactive opportunities and a special kids trail through our exhibitions, it’s a great time for visitors of all ages. Make your own Shakespeare scene, set type for printing, become a First Folio detective, fold paper to make books, and more.

Plan your visit

The Folger reopens June 21, 2024, after a multi-year building renovation. Admission is free, and all are welcome!

We recommend that you reserve a pay-what-you-will timed-entry pass, with a suggested donation starting at $15.


Exhibition tours

We invite you to take one of our free tours, but there’s no one path through the galleries, so you’re welcome to explore at your own pace. Curious to learn more about something in the exhibitions? Gallery guides will be on hand to answer questions.

Ongoing exhibitions

Special exhibitions

a portrait of Frederick Douglass surrounded by colorful kaleidoscopic images of ships and butterfly wings
Photo by Lloyd Wolf

Imprints in Time

Fri, Jun 21, 2024 – Sun, Jan 5, 2025

A dedicated gallery in the Stuart and Mimi Rose Rare Book and Manuscript Exhibition Hall will host a range of changing exhibitions—beginning with a stunning display of books and other objects from the extraordinary collection of Stuart and Mimi Rose. From the underworld of Ancient Egypt to the surface of the Moon, this exhibition offers a journey across human history, knowledge, and creativity.

Into the Vault: Books of the 1620s

Fri, Jun 21, through September 2024

Imagine yourself in London in the 1620s, visiting shops and stalls of booksellers. In this special exhibition, encounter books from the Folger collection that were printed in the most prominent centers of European book production during the decade in which Shakespeare’s First Folio emerged. Experience part of the book-making process by creating a quarto, folio, or octavo.

Things to do in our exhibition galleries

Enjoy these fun hands-on activities for all ages.

Decoder Trail

Young Shakespeare sleuths (recommended ages 6-9) can pick up a magnifying glass and follow clues through the galleries in both exhibition halls. Decode messages, solve riddles, and create a poem to receive a special badge. Check in at the Welcome Desk in the entrance lobby for your decoder kit.

Discovery Trail

Young explorers (recommended ages 3-5) can roam the Shakespeare Exhibition Hall and find images on the walls from the Folger collection that match the ones in their notes. Check in at the Welcome Desk in the entrance lobby for your clue sheet.

Shakespeare Exhibition Hall

  • Printing with Light: Try your hand at setting type as it happened in a 1623 print shop, but without the messiness of ink.
  • Shake Up Your Shakespeare: Create a Shakespearean conversation, using compliments, insults, and memorable lines from Shakespeare’s plays.
  • Explore the First Folio: Dig through the contents of some of the First Folios, the book that gave us Shakespeare, from the perspective of a detective, storyteller, or collector.

Stuart and Mimi Rose Rare Book and Manuscript Exhibition Hall

Activity table: Fold paper to make different-sized books (folio, quarto, or octavo), and engage in other hands-on activities at the table space in the center gallery, Into the Vault. You can also flip through our facsimile of First Folio #68 and search for answers to the provided clues.


We’re dedicated to providing access to all our visitors, and we hope that the information below will help you plan your visit to our exhibitions:

  • Wheelchair-accessible
  • Service dogs welcome

For more information, visit our main Accessibility page. If you have an accessibility need that you would like to discuss with our Visitor Services team, please contact us at or (202) 544–7077.