Glencairn Museum’s Christmas Traditions in Many Lands opens Nov. 27, features antique and vintage memorabilia
BRYN ATHYN, MONTGOMERY CO, PA—For the second year in a row, Glencairn Museum and the National Christmas Center and Museum, located just outside of Lancaster, PA, have collaborated on a holiday exhibition of vintage and antique Christmas memorabilia in the Great Hall of Glencairn.
Christmas Traditions in Many Lands opens the day after Thanksgiving, November 27, at noon, along with the World Nativities exhibition, which includes more than 40 Nativity scenes from around the globe. Both are open to visitors of all ages from 12 to 4:30 every day through January 10 except December 14, 15, 24 and 25—no registration needed to tour these exhibitions at one’s own pace. Suggested donation for both: $5 per person.
Christmas Traditions reveals how Christmas was celebrated during the 19th and 20th centuries in several European countries and the United States. The exhibition is co-curated by Ed Gyllenhaal, Glencairn’s curator, and Jim Morrison, the white-bearded founder and curator of the National Christmas Center.
Nearly all of the objects in the exhibition are on loan from Morrison’s museum, many originating from his personal collection, which is legendary among collectors.
According to Morrison, “This museum 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.”
Visitors can view a rare 19th-century Austrian Christmas tree stand in the shape of a garden gnome, an elaborate 19th-century Austrian “box Nativity” and an early 20th-century papier-mâché candy container in the shape of Père Noël.
The exhibition includes a World War II Christmas tree featuring unusual American-made glass ornaments manufactured in the late 1930s and 1940s. The tree revolves on a motor-driven, musical Christmas tree stand made in the mid-1930s by A.C. Gilbert, inventor of the Erector Set. Discover why Gilbert was dubbed “The Man Who Saved Christmas” by the press.
Although Christmas trees and most other Christian traditions were prohibited by the Soviet Communist government beginning in 1925, about 10 years later the state began encouraging “New Year trees.” The New Year tree in this exhibition is decorated with glass ornaments made in the Soviet Union during the 1950s and 1960s—in the shape of the state symbols of a hammer and sickle and the red Soviet star as well as symbols of national pride such as cosmonauts and Russian folk tale characters.
Morrison, who introduces himself as “Santa, Jr.” to children who visit the Christmas Center, was inducted into the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame in 2012, along with actor Mickey Rooney.
CAPTION: This tabletop World War II Christmas tree in Glencairn's Great Hall is featured in the Museum’s Christmas Traditions in Many Lands exhibition that opens Friday, November 27, at noon and runs through January 10.
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GLENCAIRN MUSEUM, a National Historic Landmark and part of the Bryn Athyn Historic District (including Cairnwood, built 1892-95, and Bryn Athyn Cathedral, 1913-19), houses a collection of religious art and artifacts from around the world and serves as a museum of the history of religion. Glencairn itself, built in the Romanesque style between 1928 and 1939 by Raymond and Mildred Pitcairn for their family’s home, was given to the Academy of the New Church in 1980 after Mildred Pitcairn’s death. A public treasure, Glencairn Museum now offers tours of its tower and 6 floors depicting world religious history as well as a glimpse into the family’s personal life, visiting art and object exhibits. Workshops, concerts, seasonal programs and its popular annual “Christmas in the Castle” tour featuring outstanding examples of Nativity art are other ways to enjoy visits to Glencairn Museum. For more on the Museum or becoming a member: 267.502.2600, info@GlencairnMuseum.org or www.GlencairnMuseum.org.