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Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Nativity Scenes Gallery at Oak Rise Cottage

In today’s post I would like to share a very special Christmas-related collection at Oak Rise Cottage—my nativity scenes collection.

I began nativity collecting because I wished to focus more on the essential purpose of the Christmas holiday. People kept saying that Christmas was no longer worth celebrating because, "Christmas has gotten too commercialized." Not at all willing to give up on the most wonderful time of the year, I thought, why not do something about this overbearing commercialization? It always takes someone deciding and doing to make any changes.
So my goal became doing whatever was in my sphere to keep Christ in Christmas. One way to accomplish this was by presenting visuals of the story of Christ’s birth.

My first set was a 16-piece pewter plated set, purchased in December 1991 at a very charming gift shop.

It is realistically detailed on both sides. Note the shepherd girl and boy:

Everyone who sees the set is captivated by the detail. Even though I liked the pewter set very much, I still wanted something a bit more colorful, so I found this 11-piece ceramic set at Brooks Pharmacy for $7.99

Visiting a Hallmark store’s after-Christmas sale, I decided to collect just ornaments and started with these two:

As time went on, I found myself buying both sets and ornaments from catalogues, at antique stores, gift shops, while travelling, online from eBay and other venues. Co-workers, friends and relatives gifted me with more. Actually, the first ornament in the collection was in 1979 gift from a dear co-worker

So the collection grew and grew. At Christmas I displayed them in each room of my house. I also exhibited them in the college library each year, and at a gallery in Worcester, MA, where I also gave a 40-minute lecture on the nativity in December 2000. In subsequent years I loaned sets for display. Then, because of all the work of packing up, setting up and taking down, I decided to set up a mini museum right at home.
In 2005 this major change came about as I decided to empty the approximately 12’x15’ den and make it into a ‘gallery’ for my nativity collection. No longer were the nativities spread all over the house; instead, the major portion was consigned to the new Gallery. To make the gallery displays, I gathered together a plethora of tables, stands and bookcases I had gotten at consignment shops and at thrift and junk stores. To give the room some harmony, I rummaged around my house and found all the green or red fabrics, place mats, tablecloths, and even tissue paper, to provide a background for the various items. My aim was to avoid spending extra money on installation apparatus. I just made use of what I could find around the house and in the garage.

For some time, I had sought nativity scenes from various countries. It was great to see the diverse ways that the nativity story was depicted by each ethnic group or nation. So the gallery display is for the most part, arranged on three walls by world area. Starting just inside the door, to the left is the MIDDLE EAST,

with an olive wood set from Bethlehem...

then AFRICA,

Here is a set made from the thorn tree in Nigeria
and a brass set from Cameroon:

Next is ASIA,
which includes a wood carved set from China:

and a ceramic set from Korea:

LATIN AMERICA occupies one corner,
which includes this fine set of ceramic with gilt trim from Uruguay:

Next is EUROPE.

This handpainted wood set is from Russia:
From Germany comes this colorful plastic child's set by Playmobil,

And this vintage set of painted wood is from Denmark:

Europe ends this international display with Italy, the home of the first recreated nativity scene led by St. Francis of Assisi in 1223 in the village of Greccio. The last set is the popular Fontanini Heirloom nativity with its various figures and accessories.

Additional Italian nativity scenes include a glass one from Murano,

A vintage set of white plastic, a one-piece by Nuova Capodimonte, and one from Demetz Art Studio.

On a low table in the middle of the room is the United States. These are mainly nativities by various artists.

Canada is represented by a Heather Goldminc ceramic nativity, in her colorful whimsical style.

Other nativity sets occupy shelving units on the right of the door – children’s sets such as Precious Moments, Cherished Teddies, Hallmark Peanuts Gallery. These sets of pottery, paper, crystal, depict the nativity in various materials. Here is one by artist Ted Naos, sold by the Art Institute of Chicago:

On a ledge is Department 56 'Little Town of Bethlehem' with its lighted buildings

During the past two Christmases I have enjoyed each time family members, friends, neighbors, have come in the room for me to show them around the displays. Last Christmas Day after dinner we adults retired to the gallery. (The youth had already taken their tour before the meal.) There I gave my mother, my sister, her husband and his mother a relaxed tour around the room. We took time to examine special details and to discuss the designs of many of the nativity scenes.

The photographs in this post can provide only a glimpse of the inspiring array of nativity scenes. I wish you could visit in person to take in the various materials and styles. It helps us reflect on why we celebrate this day. It also helps us to realize just why this season has such a powerful effect on people year after year.

Feel free to ask any question or make a comment have on the Nativity Gallery.
Thank you for stopping by. Do come again very soon.

Vintage postcard at top is from nativity collection at Oak Rise Cottage. It pictures a panoramic view of life-size nativity figures at the Old State House in Hartford, Connecticut.


magnoliasntea said...

Carrie, your nativity collection is amazing. What a wonderful possession. Thank you for sharing the pictures with your readers. Just beautiful!

Anita said...

This is the most incredible collection I have ever seen... Every new picture I thought "No! THAT'S my favorite!"
I have always wanted to collect nativity scenes, but I have never even imagined something this incredible!
Thank you so much for sharing with us!

In case I don't talk to you again before my "sabatical", I send you and your family Christmas wishes of Peace, Joy, and Simplicity...

Cindy Garber Iverson said...

How wonderful that you have your own creche' display room! So neat!!!! Merry Christmas and may the Savior's love be with you in extra abundance over the next couple of days. Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Mary said...

Dear Carrie,
Thank you so much for inviting me to see your Nativity scenes. What a beautiful collection you have gathered! I love the set from Africa, and the Murano set. They are lovely in the pictures, but I'm sure they must be just beautiful on person.

May you and your family have a joyous and blessed Christmas!

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

What an amazing collection and display. Thank you so much for inviting me to view it. Have a wonderful Christmas.

Kimmie said...

Hi Carrie;

Thank you for the invite over to see your nativities.

Do you have a favorite one? Does it take the best spot in the house?

They all are beautiful-thanks for the tour.

be blessed and Merry Christmas!

mama to 6
one homemade and 5 adopted

Erin~~The Classy Rabbit~~ said...

Hi Carrie,

Thank you so much for your invitation to visit your Nativity collection. It is so beautiful and I really enjoyed reading the stories of each and looking at the beautiful sets. How wonderful to have an entire room devoted to the Nativity. What a lovely collection.

I hope that you have a blessed CHRISTmas that brings you peace and much happiness!

God Bless,

wanderlustandpixiedust said...

Thanks so much for inviting me. Your collection is beautiful. I wish that I could see all of this in person. I had not thought about collecting these and oh boy! I don't need to start!

Hard to pick a favorite. They are all so lovely in their own way. I wish that I could see one particular picture up close. Is it a painting? 3 Wise Men? I believe that it is in your Latin America corner. I like it!

Merry Christmas!


Jenn Thorson said...

Carrie, it's a lovely, thoughtful collection and it's so interesting to see how the scenes are treated my the various areas, using the different materials. I have never seen a manger scene in pewter before.

Wishing you a wonderful, safe and happy Christmas.

Anonymous said...

You have a very cool collection! I like that you have Nativities from different countries. You don't usually see that. They're all so beautiful that I don't think I can pick a favorite!

Hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!


Southern Heart said...

What a lovely, lovely nativity collection! I love that you have collected ones from all over the world. Just beautiful!

I hope that you and yours have a blessed Christmas!

xo, Andrea

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful collection. I too have problems knowing where to display my own collection. I have 14 in/on my china cabinet and the rest are spread around the house. Like you I have many from all over the world and I cherish their individual differences and the universality of them all. Blessings, Gill.

paru's_circle said...

this is an awesome collection, we have our own nativity scenes and pieces here, so i really appreciate
your awesome colelction
all the best to you and yours

Esther Sunday said...

Extremely impressive! Wow! Thanks for showing us. That is the most amazing collection! I love the variety of depictions. Love, Esther

Tracey said...

Thanks for the invite! I'm so glad I stopped by. Your collection is magnificent!

Merry Christmas to you and yours as we celebrate the best gift ever given, God's only Son!

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Hi, Carrie, you definitely win for the most & most varied nativity collections I've ever seen. I'm sure your guests must be enthralled with seeing it all in person.

Merry Christmas!

Tutti Chic said...

What a colection Carrie!!! Just gorgeous! Many blessings to you & yours in the New Year! :) chris

All That Chit Chat said...

Wow! What a collection. The pewter one is really unique.

tania said...

Tanti auguri di buon anno pieno di serenità Mary

Brittany said...

Oh my goodness!! I love all of them!! I have always wanted to start a collection of nativity scenes. Does three count as a collection lol? Thank you so much for the invite. I will be back to visit again!!

maggie said...

What a wonderful, awesome collection of nativities! I, too, would like to start a collection of nativities but have only a couple so far. I try to keep my eye out for any in the post- Christmas sales but choices are limited in my area.
I wish I could see your collection in person. Thanks for sharing with us.

Anonymous said...

absolutely beautiful! Thanks for sharing. My favorites are the Bethelehem and the Danish set! :)

Wendyrful said...

Wow! I have been collecting nativities for quite a few years now, and thought I had a LOT! I have somewhere over 40 - 50 if you count ornaments. How many do you have?
I started collecting them because I thought it was cute with one set in particular (the precious Moments, Mini nativity. My husband gave me a new piece each year, then I started collecting diffrent sets as well. Now I particularly look for different, interesting one's... I have a hard time finding places to put them all.