Exhibition Staff and Artist Biographies
Christmas at Glencairn is made possible by the work of many Glencairn Museum staff members and volunteers. We thank everyone involved for their work on the exhibitions, guided tour, Christmas Sing concert and everything in between. Below are biographies of some of the main people involved in Christmas at Glencairn this year.
A.J. DiAntonio, Navidad Nativities
Designer and “esteemed nativity collector” Anthony Joseph DiAntonio joined the Navidad Nativities team in 2013, where he is thrilled to direct his creativity into the intense design and development of this genre and share it with the world.
Passionate about nativities and the artistry behind them, A.J. has collected and built nativities since 1981. His personal collection numbers more that 325 nativity scenes and figures from around the world.
A former producer for Dakota Films in California, A.J. worked nationwide and internationally on projects that included the 2012 Oscar opening. He returned to Malvern, Pennsylvania, and now shares his expertise of Christmas traditions at a year-round holiday shop in Chester County.
Ed and Kirsten Gyllenhaal
Ed Gyllenhaal, curator of Glencairn Museum since 1987, has written and produced two award-winning documentaries, “Cairnwood: A Home in the Country” (2003) and “Embracing the Sacred: The Story of Glencairn Museum” (2007), and is co-curator of the World Nativities exhibition and curator of the Christmas in Pennsylvania exhibition. Kirsten Hansen Gyllenhaal works at Glencairn Museum as museum researcher and tour guide, is co-curator of the World Nativities exhibition, and is co-author of the “Christmas in the Castle” tour script together with Ed. Kirsten was researcher and project manager for a new edition of E. Bruce Glenn’s 1971 book, Bryn Athyn Cathedral: The Building of a Church (2011). Together, the couple authored a book for Arcadia Publishing in 2011, Images of America: The Bryn Athyn Historic District. They were married at Bryn Athyn Cathedral in 1985, and live in Bryn Athyn with their youngest daughter Annika and Walter the cat.
Kathleen Glenn Pitcairn, setting designer for World Nativities
Settings for the World Nativities exhibition have been created by Bryn Athyn artisan Kathleen Glenn Pitcairn. Pitcairn is a self-taught artist who has designed sets for community theater since 1982. She uses photographs to understand the country of each Nativity’s origin in order to support the pieces and not distract from them, she said.
“I also try to think about the set from the standpoint of the artists themselves and what they are trying to convey. I try to keep myself out of it,” she said. Pitcairn hopes people will be drawn into each individual Nativity.
“These are portrayals of the biblical story of the Nativity of Jesus Christ,” she said. “To me, it’s more than just an art show.”
Jim Morrison, founder and curator of the National Christmas Center, co-curator of Christmas in Pennsylvania
Jim Morrison, who introduces himself as “Santa, Jr.” to children who visit the Christmas Center, opened the 2,000 square foot museum in 1998. “[The National Christmas Center] has been a dream of mine for at least 50 years. I wanted to preserve Christmas. I want the little children to have the magic that I had as a child."
Many of the objects in the Christmas in Pennsylvania exhibition are on loan from Morrison’s museum, many originating from his personal collection, which is legendary among collectors.
Along with hosting the National Christmas Center from March through January, Morrison was inducted into the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame in 2012, along with actor Mickey Rooney.
R. Michael Palan and Karen Loccisano
For several years in a row, Glencairn has been fortunate to exhibit original Nativities by artists R. Michael Palan and his wife, Karen Loccisano. They have both worked as illustrators for children’s publications, including Highlights, a magazine for children. (In fact, the couple first met at an illustrators' party given by Highlights). For the past decade they have been working together designing Christmas ornaments for Kurt S. Adler, Inc. Palan is from Northeast Philadelphia, and Loccisano grew up in Bridgewater, New Jersey.
Michael Joseph Stumpf, Navidad Nativities
Michael has been creating distinctive, custom, award-winning settings for nativities since 1980, happily researching the world’s most exquisite settings and figures as well as large and small manufacturing facilities in such places as Bamberg, Rothenburg and Munich in Germany and Val Gardena, Ortisei, Assisi, Naples and Rome in Italy.
His nativity designs have been reproduced and sold internationally through the Fontanini Division of Roman, Inc., and through representation at AmericasMart in Atlanta. His work has taken Best of Show at the Pennsylvania Holiday Showcase (1998) and in 2008 he was invited to appear with his nativities on the Martha Stewart Show.
Today Navidad Nativities are part of private and corporate collections nationwide, including the Byers’ Choice® Nativity Museum, for which Michael was commissioned in 2005 to replicate a 17th century Italian presepi and where they were featured during September’s World Meeting of Families special exhibition.
A native of Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Michael left a 20-year banking career, where his last position was as executive VP, to open his own marketing agency in 1988. After selling the agency in 2015, he is devoting his energies full time to Navidad Nativities and fine art at his Buckingham studio.