Thursday November 5, 2009

Elisabeth's Nativity House

The University of Dayton will celebrate the unprecedented gift of 2,000 Nativities from an Australian collector with a family-oriented open house and displays of hundreds of Nativity scenes.

The University of Dayton will welcome the Christmas season with a community celebration of a new gift that nearly doubled the Marian Library's collection of Nativity scenes from around the world.

The University will host an open house featuring music, refreshments and children's activities for the premiere of "At the Manger – World Nativity Traditions," an exhibit of more than 200 Nativity scenes, 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 28, on three floors of Roesch Library on the University of Dayton campus. It's free and open to the public.

The open house will begin the annual Marian Library crèche displays from Nov. 28 through Jan. 24 at Roesch Library and several other locations in the region. The Roesch exhibit will feature highlights from the collection of Elisabeth van Mullekom, an Australian collector who last year donated more than 2,000 Nativity scenes to the Marian Library, increasing the collection to more than 3,600.

"We are happy to be able to share our collection of these wonderful Nativity scenes with the community," said Kathy Webb, dean of university libraries. "We're inviting families to come and celebrate with us and see how the birth of Christ is made real around the world."

Visitors to the library will be greeted with a 12-foot Christmas tree, adorned with dozens of vintage Christmas cards from the van Mullekom collection. Nativities of all shapes and sizes from her collection will be on display on the first and second floors.

Van Mullekom's collection is especially rich in Nativities from many different countries, and includes materials such as silk, gold, embroidery, terracotta and turtle shell. She amassed the collection over 30 years and displayed it every year in the Nativity House, a special place built by her husband for her collection.

At the Marian Library Gallery on the seventh floor, the "Rich and Poor" exhibit will compare and contrast Nativity scenes created by emerging artists from developing countries with pieces by more affluent artists from the collection of Annie and Bill Baker.

The gallery will also show paintings by California artist Darel Sparling of Creative Christian Imagery. Other events include a reception for artist Sparling scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28, in the Marian Library gallery.

"Nativity sets are from many countries and show a variety of local customs and traditions," said the Rev. Johann Roten, S.M., director of research and special projects. "Each set is part of the story of how Christianity has shaped the culture of people whose faith was formed by the good news of Christ’s birth and presence among them. The Nativity sets are also signs of the many ways in which human culture has helped God's message to be better understood and more gratefully cherished."

Selections from the Marian Library collection will be on display in several locations in the greater Dayton area throughout the Christmas season. Visit for more information on the exhibits and for more information on the Marian Library.

Elisabeth's Nativity House: The van Mullekom Collection. First public viewing of more than 200 selected Nativities from the largest gift to the Marian Library. University of Dayton Roesch Library. Saturday, Nov. 28 through Sunday, Jan. 24. Open during library hours; for daily hours call 937-229-4243 or visit

Rich and Poor. Crèches by artists from developing as well as affluent countries. University of Dayton Marian Library, 7th floor of Roesch Library. Saturday, Nov. 28 through November 2010. Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday by appointment by calling 937-229-4214.

When Purple Meets All Other Colors. Paintings by Darel Sparling of Creative Christian Imagery. University of Dayton Marian Library, 7th floor of Roesch Library. Saturday, Nov. 28, through Sunday, Jan. 24; Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday by appointment by calling 937-229-4214.

Christmas in the Old Countries. Thirty European Nativities from the Marian Library collection. Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park North, Dayton, Ohio; Wednesday, Nov. 18 through Sunday, Jan. 3. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Closed Mondays and major holidays. For more information call 937-223-5277.

A Taste of Sun and Color. Thirty Nativity scenes from Latin America reflect colorful cultural traditions, local dress, customs and climate giving them a festive warmth and joyous tone. The Gallery St. John at Mount Saint John, 4400 Shakertown Road, Dayton, Ohio. Wednesday, Nov. 25, through Sunday, Jan. 3. Wednesday through Sunday noon to 4 p.m. For more information call 937-320-5405.

Gathering at the Manger. Crèches from the Marian Library. Transfiguration Center, 3505 Calumet Road, Ludlow Falls, Ohio. Tuesday, Dec. 1, through Monday, Jan. 11. Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For other hours call 937-698-7180.

For more information, contact Cilla Shindell, executive director of news and communications, at 937-229-3257 or