For the past four years, the University of Dayton has worked to display original nativity exhibits in Roesch Library for all members of the Dayton community to enjoy. This year, around 500 people from the Dayton area have come to enjoy the nativity sets and activities.
“At the Manger: Peace on Earth” held its grand opening Saturday, Nov. 24. The grand opening included four new nativity exhibits and was filled with family-oriented activities for all ages. The exhibit runs through Jan. 27.
This year, the grand opening contained many crafts and activities for children, all of which were nativity-related. Jane Dunwoodie, assistant to the dean of university libraries, said there was a new art game created for children this year. The art game consists of arcs, that are made by volunteers.
Another game, Seek and Find, is aimed at all ages and consists of finding different animals to complete a nativity set. This game continues throughout December and January. The winner to complete his or her set will win a prize.
Along with games, live entertainment, free food and refreshments are provided.
In order to prepare for the event, the Rev. Johann Roten looks at different themes he would like to be displayed and then he works with volunteers to build original settings for the figures. Dunwoodie works with the UD Bookstore to purchase merchandise in the spring for the event and the Stable Store, which is located in Roesch Library.
The merchandise from the Stable Store is sold from Thanksgiving weekend through the month of January.
Dunwoodie believes that the nativity set at UD is unique because many cultures and countries are represented within the nativity sets.
“The fact that we have a massive collection is unusual and we might have one of the biggest collections in the nation with over 3,000 sets,” Dunwoodie said.
Dunwoodie said that the birth of Christ is represented in different ways through the nativities, which is very unique and interesting to view. Dunwoodie said she believes the displays are “different and inspiring” and also enjoys looking at the native animals that are displayed in each set.
Dunwoodie said she encourages students to view the nativity sets to enjoy the other cultures represented and view the original work that is done by the volunteers. The work displayed is created at UD by volunteers and is original.
“The exhibit changes every year so even if students say they have seen it before, they haven’t seen it,” Dunwoodie said.
Libby Harbaugh, a sophomore foreign language education major at UD, works in the office of the dean of university libraries. Harbaugh assisted with setting up tables for the event and picking out prizes to give to the children.
Harbaugh said she believes the nativity sets are unique because “they are from all over the world and appeal to children.”
Harbaugh said she is impressed with the 3,000 nativity sets, 200 of which are on display. She described the sets as“different, individual and original” and recommended that all UD students view the exhibits while they are on display.
“These sets help get us excited for Christmas and represent Christmas in a Marianist Catholic way,” Harbaugh said.
For more information about the “At the Manger” exhibit, visit udayton.edu/libraries/manger.