National Building Museum and Folger Shakespeare Library Bring the Wonders of Shakespeare to the Great Hall

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The Playhouse will be the Museum’s eighth annual Summer Block Party installation and the stage for performances of Folger Shakespeare Library’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 27, 2022 – The National Building Museum and the Folger Shakespeare Library, in association with the University of South Carolina, are partnering this summer to present The Playhouse. Starting on Friday, July 1–and running through August 28, 2022–visitors can step back in time with the Bard for the latest iteration of the Museum’s Summer Block Party. An exciting Festival stage, developed by Jim Hunter, Department Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of South Carolina, which comfortably fits into the Museum’s immense—and air conditioned—Great Hall, will welcome visitors as they arrive. By day it provides a venue for unique experiences related to theater—from behind-the-scenes tours to sword-fighting demonstrations and other hands-on activities. At night The Playhouse transforms into a stage for Shakespeare’s most famous, fairy-filled comedy for Folger Theatre’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Victor Malana Maog.

Visiting The Playhouse during the day is included with Museum admission; tickets to evening performances of Midsummer are a separate purchase. Ticketing information below.

Visitors will enter this summer’s experience via an immersive installation based on Joanna Robson’s A Knavish Lad, a double-concertina artists’ book from the Folger collection that visually narrates every scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was completed in 2016 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Brought to life by Southside Design & Building, adults and children alike will be transported into the world of A Midsummer Night’s Dream allowing them to step into the magic of Shakespeare’s beloved play.

The Museum will offer a variety of drop-in and scheduled programs daily, Thursday–Monday, July 1–August 28, 2022. Guests of all ages will find something fun to do, including building an Elizabethan City by Design, a Shakespearean-version of a favorite Museum activity where visitors discover details about city planning and create a town of buildings constructed from recycled materials. A scavenger hunt will take participants throughout the Museum looking for Midsummer characters, and guided tours will present the art and mystery of stagecraft while showing the intricacies of The Playhouse’s construction.

“We have been planning for this partnership since before the COVID pandemic and we are excited to finally explore the interconnections of architecture, construction, theater, performance, and design,” said Aileen Fuchs, President and Executive Director of the National Building Museum. “The Museum is honored to be part of this cultural partnership and to bring this theater literally into our Great Hall. Visitors will gain experience a transformation of our iconic Great Hall and engage in one of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays through the lens of inspiring wonder and creativity.”

The Playhouse is the latest of the Museum’s Summer Block Party installations including Lawn by LAB at Rockwell Group, FUN HOUSE by Snarkitecture, Hive by Studio Gang, ICEBERGS by James Corner Field Operations, the BIG Maze by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), and Snarkitecture’s The BEACH.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a play about how we find our way back to powerful emotions and deeply intuitive connections,” said Michael Witmore, Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library. “How wonderful, then, that we have this opportunity to engage the public with the startling scale of the Great Hall of the National Building Museum, transformed into a theater of immense proportions. We hope that this fusion of architecture and storytelling will transport visitors to a place of creativity and renewed imagination. I can imagine no better partner in this enterprise than the National Building Museum.”

Scenic designer Tony Cisek directed the creation of The Playhouse and will design the set for Midsummer. Director of Programming, Folger Shakespeare Library and Artistic Director, Folger Theatre Karen Ann Daniels says, “For the Folger and the National Building Museum, this is a shared invitation for people of all ages and experiences to uncover the magic of theater through The Playhouse’s intricate structural composition during the day and then beckons us to get lost in the passion and whimsy of storytelling at night. After almost three years of waiting, The Playhouse permits us to dream, to play, and rediscover the joy of gathering.”

National Building Museum Hours
The Playhouse at the National Building Museum can be explored July 1 – August 28, Thursday – Monday, 11 am – 4 pm.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Folger Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be in performance Tuesdays through Sundays from Tuesday, July 12 through Sunday, August 28, 2022. Tickets to Midsummer will be available May 18, 2022 at or by calling the Folger Box Office, 202-544-7077.

Top: The Playhouse, the 2022 National Building Museum’s Summer Block Party installation is a partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library. It will fill the Museum’s Great Hall. Credit: Alex Erkiletian.
Bottom: Illustration from A Knavish Lad by Joanna Robson, inspiration for the entrance experience for The Playhouse at the National Building Museum, July 1 – August 28.

National Building Museum: Karen Baratz,, 240-497-1811
Folger Shakespeare Library: Peter Eramo, Jr.,, 540-226-7385

The National Building Museum inspires curiosity about the world we design and build. We believe that understanding the history and impact of architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, construction, and design is important for all ages. Through exhibitions and educational programs, we show how the built world has power to shape our lives, communities, and futures. Public inquiries: 202.272.2448 or visit Connect with us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Folger Shakespeare Library is the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the ultimate resource for exploring Shakespeare and his world. The Folger welcomes millions of visitors online and in person. It provides unparalleled access to a huge array of resources, from original sources to modern interpretations. With the Folger, you can experience the power of performance, the wonder of exhibitions, and the excitement of pathbreaking research. The Folger offers the opportunity to see and even work with early modern sources, driving discovery and transforming education for students of all ages.

The award-winning Folger Theatre in our nation’s capital bridges the arts and humanities through transformational performances and programming that speak inclusively to the human experience. Now under the leadership of Artistic Director Karen Ann Daniels, Folger Theatre continues its legacy through exciting interpretations and adaptations of Shakespeare and expands the classical canon through cultivating today’s artists and commissioning new work that is in dialogue with the concerns and issues of our time. Folger Theatre thrives both on its historical stage and in the community, engaging audiences wherever they happen to be.

During a multiyear building renovation, join the Folger online and on the road. Learn more at

The Playhouse at the National Building Museum is generously supported by presenting sponsor AARP and lead sponsor CoStar.

Folger Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is supported by the Share Fund, with additional funding from the University of South Carolina Excellence Initiative, a grant program that promotes transformative teaching, research, creative activity, and community engagement. Folger Theatre Season Sponsors include Maygene and Steve Daniels, Helen and David Kenney and Family, and the late Neal T. Turtell as well as Contributing Sponsor Gail Kern Paster.