World's largest Shakespeare archive on the move to a new home - The Leamington Observer

World's largest Shakespeare archive on the move to a new home

Ian Hughes 14th Mar, 2024   0

THE WORLD’S largest publicly accessible library and archive devoted to Shakespeare is on the move.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the Stratford-based charity which cares for the collections, has unveiled plans to move the library and archive from the Shakespeare Centre, next door to the Bard’s birthplace, to a new home on the Avenue Farm development, a short distance from the town centre.

The collection includes direct documentary priceless evidence of Shakespeare’s life, including his baptism and burial recorded in the Holy Trinity Parish Register, copies of the First Folio of his complete works, and a signet ring believed to have belonged to the playwright, together with a wealth of sources pn his plays and their history on the stage.

SBT also look after the official archive of the RSC, which includes hundreds of thousands of photos, programmes and reviews, as well as prompt books and DVD recordings.

SBT say the move will make the library and archive more easily accessible to more people.

Paul Taylor, head of museum and curatorial services at SBT, said: “Since the completion of the Shakespeare Centre in 1964, we have stored our extensive collection of material connected to the life, times and works of William Shakespeare and the history of Stratford-upon-Avon and south Warwickshire within the collections store of the building.

“While the collections continue to be well maintained and conserved, there are challenges around the space and overall condition of the Shakespeare Centre.

“As these issues will take time to be resolved, we have been exploring alternative sites to store the collection so that repair and restoration work can take place at the Shakespeare Centre.”

The project is set to start shortly with the appointment of a new project manager to oversee the works, although no official timeline for completion has been announced.

As well as offering improved public access, Avenue Farm will also offer new research facilities, with increased capacity for researchers compared to that currently available at the Shakespeare Centre.

Avenue Farm also promises to be more accessible for visitors with specific mobility needs, including allocated parking spaces outside and near the building.

SBT has confirmed there will be short-term disruption to accessing the collection when the project begins and has already written to partners and researchers.

Rachael North, SBT director of museum and public programmes, said: “Avenue Farm gives us the opportunity to engage, meaningfully, with a wider audience and share our world-class collection.

“Both the accessibility of the building and the opportunities to develop new research facilities so that we can truly create something that suits the needs of current audiences as well as the audiences of the future.

“This is an exciting, expansive and impactful project and we look forward to working with our partners across Stratford and beyond as we develop a leading collections access programme.”

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has set up a dedicated email [email protected], to answer specific questions on the collections store move.

Visit for further details.


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