The Folger’s 1932 building, designed by architect Paul Cret, is undergoing a major renovation to expand public space, improve accessibility, and enhance the experience for all who come to the Folger.
Reaching out to a wide range of visitors, the building renovation project is adding new exhibition galleries, an education lab, research spaces, social gathering spots, and more. Visitors will enter a new 12,000-square-foot public pavilion under the Folger’s front lawn through large, welcoming, and fully accessible plazas on both the east- and west-facing sides of the building. The project is made possible by The Wonder of Will Campaign.
While construction continues, our historic building at 201 East Capitol Street is not accessible to visitors for exhibitions, tours, events, or research. However, Folger performances and programs continue at other venues and online.
News and updates
Expanding to Welcome the World
Envisioning the Folger’s Future: Spotlight on Architecture and Design
Breathing New Life Into Historic Spaces
The Wonder of Will:
The Campaign for the Folger Shakespeare Library
The Wonder of Will has raised over $50 million to support the building renovation and the Folger’s many programs. Participate in the way that is most meaningful to you, from funding beautiful new spaces to supporting the programs that bring Shakespeare and his world to life.
Our campaign leaders and donors
Contact us at 202-675-0303 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The landscaped entry plazas will connect with open gardens on either side of the building, with paths and benches for visitors.
When the building reopens to the public, there will be permanent and temporary exhibitions available year-round in two large exhibition halls.
The building renovation project will create new study rooms where researchers can consult more easily with curators or conservators. There will also be multipurpose and flexible meeting spaces where researchers can collaborate or participate in seminars. The historic Reading Room will have new, ergonomically designed furniture, as well as improvements to lighting and internet connectivity.
A new Education Laboratory will provide a flexible space for hands-on demonstrations, interactive workshops, and lively discussions for learners of all ages. New exhibition galleries and more deeply engaging programs for students and teachers will enrich and support classroom work with Shakespeare’s texts.
- Full accessibility
- Elevator access to all public levels
- Café services in the Great Hall
- Expanded gift shop
- Expanded restrooms
Track the project’s progress since 2018.
Restoration work begins on the Folger’s historic façade
April 15, 2019
The Wonder of Will campaign launches
January 4, 2020
Final day for research in the Folger Reading Rooms before construction begins
January 5, 2020
Final day for daytime visitors to the Folger main building before construction begins; the building remains open to the public for evening events
March 1, 2020
Final performance in the Elizabethan Theatre for the 2019-2020 Folger Theatre season; public evening access to the building ends
August 26, 2020
Puck statue and fountain disassembled for safe storage during construction
The historic magnolia tree is moved to its new location in the West Garden
Plinth dismantled and excavation begins
Information for neighbors on Capitol Hill
The Folger is working to minimize the disruption our renovation project will have on the surrounding neighborhood. Traffic patterns around the 201 East Capitol building remain the same. Sign up for email updates
2nd Street SE
The sidewalk along the garden on 2nd Street SE from the Folger driveway (“Puck Circle”) to East Capitol Street will be closed during most of construction. From time to time a pedestrian walkway may be open, and as needed, there will be signs and persons flagging the foot traffic for safe passing.
East Capitol Street
The sidewalk in front of the Folger along East Capitol Street SE from 2nd Street SE to 3rd Street SE is closed. Parking spaces on that block — on both sides of East Capitol Street — have been replaced by a temporary pedestrian walkway on the south side of East Capitol Street and temporary bike lanes on both sides of East Capitol Street. This configuration will be in place until the end of construction.
3rd Street SE
From the Library of Congress alley to the corner at East Capitol Street, the sidewalk adjacent to the Folger is closed. Parking on the west of the street from A Street SE to East Capitol Street has been eliminated in order to maintain a bike lane and vehicular traffic. Parking on the east side will remain. A temporary crosswalk has been added from the Library of Congress alley across 3rd Street SE to the corner of 3rd and A Street SE.
Most construction-related vehicles will enter the property at the corners of East Capitol and 2nd Street SE and 3rd Street SE. From time to time, heavy construction equipment used in excavation may result in traffic delays as equipment is maneuvered onto the property. Dumpsters, portable toilets, and materials staging will all be within the construction barricade and will not be visible from the street. Contractors will abide by DC’s legal construction hours which are 7am to 7pm, Monday through Saturday. Work will not happen on designated holidays.
About the architects, designers, and other partners
Learn more about the people we are working with to accomplish this project.
KieranTimberlake is an internationally acclaimed architecture firm with a portfolio of beautifully crafted, thoughtfully made buildings that are holistically integrated to site, program, and people. Founded in 1984, the 100-person practice is recognized worldwide with prestigious design awards, publications, and exhibitions. The firm’s transdisciplinary approach integrates the expertise of architects, researchers, and communicators to create innovative, compelling, and award-winning projects for academic, art, cultural, government, and civic institutions throughout North America and overseas.
OLIN is dedicated to affecting positive change through landscape architecture, urban design, and planning. From its studios in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, the firm practices in a range of scales, including ecological and regional systems, urban districts, campuses, civic parks, plazas, and intimate gardens. OLIN’s diverse group of partners leads the firm in developing multifunctional, highly crafted, and environmentally sensitive design solutions, uniting natural processes with technical innovation to produce contemporary and beautiful places that are beloved for generations.
Pentagram is the world’s largest independently owned design studio. Our work encompasses graphics and identity, architecture and interiors, products and packaging, exhibitions and installations, websites and digital experiences, advertising and communications. Our 23 partners are all practicing designers, and whether they are working collaboratively or independently, they always do so in friendship.
Our structure is unique. We are the only major design studio where the owners of the business are the creators of the work and serve as the primary contact for every client. This reflects our conviction that great design cannot happen without passion, intelligence, and — above all — personal commitment, and is demonstrated by a portfolio that spans five decades and all industries.
Our construction partners
Gilbane Building Company
Becker and Frondorf