The Folger Shakespeare Library, located on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Is home to the world’s largest and finest collection of Shakespeare materials and to major collections of other rare Renaissance books, manuscripts, and works of art. The Folger encompasses a world-renowned research center on the early modern age and a innovative conservation lab for the preservation of rare books and works on paper. The Folger’s public programs include plays, concerts, literary readings, family activities, and exhibitions, as well as numerous K-12 and college programs for students and teachers. Advanced scholars participate in a variety of Folger Institute seminars and colloquia.
Henry Clay Folger, a millionaire Standard Oil executive, devoted a great deal of his life to the acquisition of the largest collection of Shakespearean materials in the world. Folger purchased the land where the library stands today a parcel at a time, and he acquired the entire property by 1928. Paul P. Cret, the architect, designed the building in the modern classical style, to blend with its neighbors on Capitol Hill including the Capitol, Library of Congress, and the House and Senate Office Buildings. Construction began in November of 1929. Mr. Folger died two weeks after the cornerstone was laid in 1930. His will appointed the Trustees of Amherst College to administer the library, and it remains in their hands today.
The National Geographic Society assigned Nathan Benn to photograph the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C., in 1985. The article Shakespeare Lives at the Folger over 15 pages in the February 1987 issue of National Geographic Magazine. The author was NGM assistant editor Merle Severy, the picture editor was Susan Welchman, and Nathan’s photo assistant was Visko Hatfield.
Technical Notes: Most of the location photography was shot with Leica M4 and Nikon F cameras with Kodachrome 35mm film. The studio object images and objects were shot with a Hasselblad 500c camera on Fujichrome 120 film.