In other exciting museum news, the Hunterian is reopening in May.
Long before London audiences were lapping up Les Mis in the West End, the place to be for plays was Shoreditch — and theatres like the Curtain.
From spring 2024, there'll be the chance to travel back to Elizabethan London, by way of a new experience — the Shakespeare Museum — on the site of the old playhouse where the Bard put on plays, including Romeo & Juliet and Henry V.
The museum is the joint vision of the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) and Historic England, alongside a panel of Shakespearean academic advisors. Immersive experience virtuosos Bompas & Parr are also involved, meaning this will be no ordinary museum. Visitors are promised multisensory experiences, in which they can 'soak up the sights, smells, sounds and people that inspired Shakespeare's plays', with a projected reconstruction of the playhouse and AI technology bringing it back to life. There's also the chance to step onto the stage (or stand above its remains, anyway).
Archeological digs by MOLA took place on the site between 2011 and 2016 (see our video), ahead of construction for The Stage — a flashy set of Shoreditch apartments, offices, retail et al. Among artefacts they found, and which will be on display at the new museum, are money box tops and tobacco pipes.
2023 marks the 400th anniversary of the First Folio of Shakespeare's works, with rare copies going on display in London, including at Guildhall Library on 24 April.