Glencairn Museum opens World Nativities and Christmas Traditions in Many Lands exhibitions Nov. 27
BRYN ATHYN, MONTGOMERY CO, PA—Glencairn Museum’s annual World Nativities exhibition debuts two exciting new features when it launches to the public the day after Thanksgiving, November 27.
In addition to the World Nativities exhibition, which includes more than 40 Nativity scenes from around the globe displayed in settings created by Bryn Athyn artisan Kathleen Glenn Pitcairn, is the Christmas Traditions in Many Lands exhibition. 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.
An old friend gets a fresh look
Those who have visited the World Nativities exhibition in the past will find an exciting new look for the three-panel Pitcairn Nativity. This year the Nativity has been given new life with museum-quality LED interior lighting. Replacing the original incandescent system for this old favorite has made the scenes more visible and more inspiring than ever.
The Nativity was commissioned in the 1920s by Raymond Pitcairn and created by Winfred S. Hyatt, the preeminent stained glass artist who designed and painted the majority of the windows in Bryn Athyn Cathedral and Glencairn. It has played a central role in every Glencairn Christmas celebration, first for the family and continuing as the Museum shares its Nativity collection with the public each year.
This thoughtful update to a Bryn Athyn community treasure enhances its beauty and importance for all who view it.
Glencairn is proud to debut a unique Nativity created expressly for this year’s World Nativities exhibition by Navidad Nativities, which has been hand-crafting custom “manger scenes” in Bucks County since the 1980s.
Navidad’s Michael Stumpf and A.J. DiAntonio’s inaugural visit to last year’s World Nativities exhibition so impressed them that they returned a few weeks later to tour the Museum and Bryn Athyn Cathedral for the first time.
Drawn to the art and architecture of these two remarkable structures, they spent hours with Glencairn’s curator, Ed Gyllenhaal, and director, Brian Henderson, to learn as much as possible about the buildings’ shared history.
Stumpf and DiAntonio were attracted to the story of how Raymond Pitcairn was inspired to oversee the design and construction of Bryn Athyn’s medieval-style church, dedicated in 1919, and his Glencairn home, built in the Romanesque style between 1928 and 1939. Pitcairn’s vision, commitment and attention to detail in turn inspired the artisans.
Borrowing liberally from their favorite elements in each of the structures, the Navidad artisans developed a design that represents their interpretation of the historical and architectural relationship between Glencairn and the Cathedral.
In this Nativity, Glencairn’s cloister roofed in blue tiles on the left and the family’s wood-floored dining room with carved fireplace arch on the right surround the stained-glass-lit Cathedral sanctuary, with its stone floor and monel-metal screen.
This Nativity is home to more than a dozen classical Renaissance-style figures of people, animals and an angel. Designed and handcrafted in wood and stiffened fabric by Original Heide, a family-owned business in Val Gardena in the Italian Alps, the figures were purchased during a buying trip through regions of Italy and Germany where small companies like this create interpretive masterworks.
This 55-inch by 30-inch Glencairn Nativity allows fresh perceptions for the viewer from different vantage points. Interior lighting, as well as the multi-framed architectural scenes that make up the whole, encourage examination from various angles to discover carefully crafted details reminiscent of favorite features at the Cathedral and Glencairn.
CAPTION: The Glencairn Nativity is featured in the Museum’s World Nativities exhibition that opens Friday, November 27, at noon and runs through January 10. Credit: Rosemary Carroll for Navidad Nativities.
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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.