UD Marian Library ‘At the Manger’ Exhibit Offers Diverse Nativity Collections

Alex Goodlive
Arts & Entertainment Staff Writer

The Marian Library’s “At the Manger” exhibit has been an annual UD tradition. Cover photo courtesy of the Marian Library’s website. 

The Marian Library plans to carry out an Advent and Christmas tradition this December when they open their “At the Manger” exhibit on Dec. 2, lasting until Jan. 12. The exhibit, titled “A Labor of Love,” is made possible largely due to many volunteers and features nativity scenes from various artists and cultures.

Speaking with Jillian Ewalt, the Marian Library’s Librarian for Visual Resources, I learned that since 1995, the Marian Library has shown dozens of artworks portraying the birth of Christ from its collection of over 3,000 items. Many of the pieces are either loaned or donated to the Marian Library while others have been commissioned or purchased. The nativity scenes are then placed on wooden frames, tables and boxes built by generous craftsmen volunteering thousands of hours to build and install displays for the exhibits. Former Dayton professor Harry Mushenheim has designed many backdrops and sets for the nativity scenes on display.

On the first floor of Roesch Library, visitors will find a large room with several nativities along with a tribute to the volunteers who make the exhibit possible. The room will also feature “Our Provencal Village,” a massive French piece, featuring dozens of santons, incredibly detailed terracotta figurines of French villagers who gather together to witness the birth of Christ. This year, the room will also show a wax nativity from Mexico that an artist partially restored as the piece was made in the 1950s.

See also- UD Alum Max Boyle Moves into ‘The Voice’ Top 13

The rest of the exhibit is located in the Marian Library, and the walls display many portraits of the Holy Family created by artist Ruth Sanderson along with nativity sets held by handcrafted wooden frames. Visitors will also see the creche museum, a large room featuring nativity sets styled from various cultures including Polish, Icelandic and Mexican styles of art.

“Mirror of Hope” Nativity. Courtesy of Alex Goodlive

A personal favorite of mine is the massive “Mirror of Hope,” a giant wooden castle-like display which Ms. Ewalt explained was designed by artist Kevin Hanna for the university’s 150th anniversary. The artwork displays not just the nativity, but the story of the Bible from creation to Jesus’ death and resurrection. I encourage you to see it along with the rest of the exhibit.

The Marian Library is on the seventh floor of Roesch Library. Admission is free and open to the public.

For more arts & entertainment news like Flyer News on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@FlyerNews) and Instagram (@flyernews) 

Flyer News: Univ. of Dayton's Student Newspaper